To trade unions around the world
This May Day is approaching at a time when a revolution is in progress in Iran and in which the working class has an important role. This revolution is a blow to political Islam and Islamic terrorism, and will transform people’s lives in Iran and the region, while making the world a safer and better place. Thus it deserves the strongest support of the people globally. As the international day of solidarity of the workers of the world, May Day is a most appropriate day on which to express this solidarity even more resolutely. We wish to highlight the following as the most urgent issues facing the workers in Iran, and around which this solidarity could be expressed in the most effective way:
- The right of workers in Iran to freely organise, strike and assemble; the right to form independent trade unions and any form of workers’ organisations as they see fit; the right to free collective bargaining;
- An end to harassment and persecution of workers in Iran; immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned trade unionists and all political prisoners; those currently in jail include Mansoor Ossanlou and Ebrahim Madadi (from the leadership of Tehran’s bus workers’ union), Ali Nejati (president of Haft Tappeh sugar cane workers’ union), Farzad Kamangar, a teacher and labour activist who is under a sentence of death, and Ali Reza Ghanbari, who was arrested in the 27th December demonstrations and who has also been sentenced to death;
- The Iranian regime to be expelled from the International Labour Organisation (ILO) for its persecution of workers, violation of fundamental workers’ rights and barbaric repression against the people in Iran; these include shooting, jailing and raping peaceful protesters during the recent mass demonstrations; numerous routine executions (giving Iran the highest per capita record of executions); stoning women and men to death for sexual relations outside marriage; executing child offenders; executing gays for homosexual relations; for instituting a system of Sexual Apartheid and flagrant legal discrimination again women; etc. As a first step, demand to be made to the ILO Executive for the immediate suspension of the right of the Islamic Republic of Iran to attend the forthcoming International Labour Conference in June 2010 in Geneva;
- Support to be expressed for the Charter of Minimum Demands of Workers in Iran issued jointly by Iran’s four main independent trade unions on the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution, which succinctly outlines the most fundamental and pressing demands of the workers in Iran. A translation of this Charter follows (please see Appendix).
We call on all trade unions around the world to support these demands of the workers in Iran by highlighting them at their May Day rallies, meetings and other events this May Day, and thus help build a powerful international movement of solidarity with the workers and the revolution of the people in Iran.
International Labour Solidarity Committee of the Worker-communist Party of Iran (ILSC-WPI)
14 April 2010
Appendix: Joint declaration by Iran’s four main independent trade unions
Charter of the minimum demands of workers in Iran
On the 31st anniversary of the 1979 revolution
Thirty one years have passed since the February 1979 revolution. At that time millions of Iranian people, full of hope for a better life, took to the streets in order to break the yoke of despotism and repression. A nationwide strike led by workers at the National Oil Company, the vanguard of the Iranian working class, shut down oil pipelines, ultimately tearing the despotic regime asunder. Masses of people chanted, “Our oil workers! Our resolute leaders!” Power fell to the people.
February 11, 1979, a day that marks an end to despotism, is a day that calls forth unforgettable memories of men and women, young and old, who had grown tired of repression and injustice; people embraced one another in the streets, cried with joy, and, with tears in their eyes, looked forward to a liberated future.
Now, 31 years have passed since those glorious days full of enchantment. Yet, today the feelings of hope and enchantment have been transformed into nothing but misery, destitution, unemployment, sub-poverty line wages, and cuts in subsidies – i.e., unbearable agony for millions of workers and wage earners.
However, life continues. And, the Iranian people still have a burning desire for change. They have not lost their hope for a human, happy, prosperous and free life.
In the past few years workers of Iran bravely fought for their right to life and dignity with their strikes and protests and by setting up their independent organisations. And today many of them sit in jail for attempting to organise and for wanting a human life.
But these jail cells do not mark the end of the road. We millions are the producers of the wealth that exists, and the wheels of production are in hour hands. And we have as our historical support the experience of the united and magnificent strike of the oil workers during the February 1979 revolution. Relying on this experience and the power of our millions and inspired by the humanistic aspirations of the 1979 revolution, today, after thirty one years, we present our minimum demands and call for the immediate and unconditional realisation of them all:
1. Unconditional recognition of independent workers’ organisations, the right to strike, to organise protests, the freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and freedom of political organisation;
2. Abolition of the death penalty, and the immediate and unconditional release of jailed workers’ and other social activists;
3. Immediate increase in the minimum wage based on workers’ input through their representatives in workers’ general assemblies;
4. And end to the ‘Rationalization of Subsidies Plan’. All unpaid wages should be paid immediately without any excuses;
5. Job security for workers and all wage earners; an end to all temporary and so-called ‘blank signature’ contracts; removal of all government-run organisations in the work place; drafting of a new labour law through direct participation of workers’ representatives elected by their general assemblies;
6. Halt to all firings and layoffs under any circumstances and excuses. Anyone expelled or any unemployed person who has reached the age of employment must benefit from an unemployment benefit at a level that affords a human life with dignity;
7. Abolition of all the discriminatory laws against women; ensuring full and unconditional equality of women and men in all social, economic, political, cultural, and family fields;
8. Ensuring to all the retired a life of welfare, free of economic anxieties; putting an end to all discriminatory payment practices, and enabling them all to benefit from social and medical services;
9. All children, irrespective of their parents’ economic and social status, and of gender, nationality, race and religion, must be granted free and equal educational, welfare, and health care benefits;
10. May Day must be declared a national holiday and included in the official calendar; all legal restrictions on its celebration must be removed.
*Tehran and Suburbs United Bus Workers Union
*Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers Union
*Free Union of Iranian Workers
*Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers Association
10 February 2010
[Edited text of an existing translation published on labour solidarity websites.]