On January 5th, independent trade unions in Iran issued a statement in support of the mass protests against austerity and dictatorship that began at the end of last year. The statement was issued in the name of the Tehran Public Transport Workers Union and the Haft Tapeh Agro-industry Workers Union in Khuzestan province. Both unions have been involved in recent struggles and have suffered repression. Reza Shahabi, a leader of the Tehran bus workers, has been a target for persecution since 2010, served a 6 year jail term and now has been imprisoned again since August, last year.
We urge readers to send solidarity messages demanding the release of all jailed trade unionists and protesters and support all efforts to build a movement of workers, youth and the poor to win democratic rights and to transform Iran.
Don’t use violence against the people struggling to survive!
Protests by poorer, oppressed classes and workers is a result of injustice
For years, we said our wages did not meet our minimum livelihoods but this was not heard. We were not paid our meagre wages, which are one-fifth of poverty-line wages, for months. The spread of privatisation, sub-contracting, temporary and blank contracts (where workers have to give their bosses a signed and fingerprinted blank sheet of paper) under different administrations continuously attacked workers’ job security. Bank loans allocated for so-called job creation were used by certain people for non-productive businesses and profiteering. Wrong policies skyrocketed unemployment. Poverty has intensified and homelessness, child labour and scavenging has grown as a means of survival. Medical insurance is not adequate for workers and ordinary people. Embezzlement and the looting of public assets have become prevalent. With the rise in the cost of services and fuel, the prices of other goods and services have also risen. The lower classes have been damaged by making the subsidies “targeted”, and while the (monthly) cash subsidy paid to the people is a fixed amount, prices became extremely liberalised.
Legitimate protests by workers and teachers were responded to by dismissals, lashings and prison.
The Tehran Public Transport Workers Union, Haft Tapeh Agro-industry Workers Union and other independent unions and organisations of workers and teachers that defend their rights, are not recognised officially, and furthermore are suppressed violently, their members have frequently been imprisoned and put before courts. The Constitution has been frequently violated by the failure to recognise the people’s right to protest and workers’ rights to form their independent unions and pursue their rights.
All workers and the poor have experienced this widespread injustice. Violence is not an answer to the people who struggle to survive.
Tehran Public Transport Workers Union
Haft Tapeh Agro-industry Workers Union