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Newsletter (in English)


The Iranian workers’ movement is one of the strongest in the Middle East. It has a lot of experience from mass and militant struggles and since its birth it has been in several situations in which it was close to the revolutionary seizure of power. This workers’ movement has faced several waves of a systematic state repression. This repression is aimed not only against the political activities of left-wing of the workers’ movement but also against any kind of resistance to the gradual decline of the workers’ living standards.

The Iranian ruling class is in a terrible position. Dissatisfaction has spread to workers all over the country. The most tense situation – a de facto state of emergency – is probably in the city Shus in the southwestern part of Iran. The disturbances there started in autumn of last year when the workers of a local state-owned sugar mill and plantation Haft Tapeh went on strike. The workers protested because of unpaid wages (their families were suffering from hunger) and the mismanagement of company, which was under the rule of the “sugar mafia”. The workers had peacefully asked the governor for improvements several times, but they received only empty promises. When five sugar mill workers were charged and summoned to court because of their involvement in a strike in May 2008, the tension once again broke out into open conflict.

On May 6, over 3,000 workers went on strike again. They demanded the payment of wages owed for the last two months, an end to the prosecution of workers who had gone on strike, the dismissal of the general manager of the company, the mullah Yaghoob Shafiee, the whole management and also the security chief of the company, who is guilty of beating, threatening, spying on and denouncing workers. In the following days, the number of strikers increased to over 5000. People gathered outside the governor’s building and marched through the city center and bazaar, where a lot of shopkeepers and youth joined the rally. On May 17, about ten thousand people took the streets and shouted slogans: „Trade unions are our right!“ and „We are prepared to die but can’t accept this hardship any more!“ The cops assaulted the demonstration with truncheons and tear gas. Subsequently, the city has been invaded by special units from Khorambad, Ahvaz and Dezful who have been based in the city center, near the market, and on the main roads and entrances to the city. Several workers have been arrested since then.

In spite of this, on 16 June, the 42nd day of their strike, the workers elected their genuine representatives. The leadership of the new independent trade union is made up of the most militant workers, who have all been barred from membership of the factory’s Islamic labor council because of their activities. The radical youth as well as a lot of other workers support the employees of the sugar factory with solidarity letters and statements. Those include workers from the pipe plant in Ahvaz, who have also not received wages for several months.

Unrest and protests have started in the other factories as well. Workers of the tire plant in the town of Kian have received no wages for the passed five months, not to mention promised New Year bonuses. When they went on strike against the company management, they were assaulted by a special police unit. The cops ordered firefighters to use their hoses to douse the striking workers with boiling water. Six firefighters refused to carry out this criminal order against their class sibling and they were immediately jailed at the detention centre together with the workers. Arrested workers were then forced to sign an “agreement” which gave them the unpaid wages for three months (of the five months they were owed).

In the middle of May, the workers of the shipyard in Bushehr went on strike. The majority of them have worked in the shipyard for several years, but the management has recently changed the contract system and tried to replace “old” working force with new, cheaper workers with flexible contracts. The management has tried to do this even though it owes these workers their wages for several months. In spite of previous police assaults, which resulted in several heavy injuries, workers fought back. Their militancy was shown as they managed to cut off the electricity supply of nearby oil and gas platforms. The local ruling elite became nervous and was forced to negotiate with workers in the end. Here, the ruling class has been defeated.

Much worse is the situation of Mansour Osanloo, a leader of the bus drivers in the Vahed bus company, where workers are also struggling for better wages and working conditions. He was arrested after a trip to meet trade unionists in Britain. He was beaten and tortured by jail guards, who hit his head and damaged his eye. He was subsequently operated while in handcuffs and leg irons, and his health has deteriorated so much that he had be admitted to a coronary unit.

However, the Iranian government doesn’t only have trouble with workers. Almost 5,000, mostly female, students joined a protest at the teacher training university in Pardis Karaj, about 20 km west of Tehran. It is a student strike supported by the majority, which prevents strike-breaking students and professors from attending classes. The students are protesting against the sub-standard self-service canteen, the cramped dormitories and women are also emphasizing their continuous harassment by the authorities. Nearly 150 student are taking the part in a hunger strike and repeating the slogan of Haft Tapeah sugar mill workers: “We are prepared to die but cant accept hardship any more!” Mabshari, a mullah and one of the leaders at the university, has issued a jihad order against the striking students and the university has been surrounded by special police units. On the other hand, thousands of students from other universities and colleges are supporting this strike enthusiastically.

At the moment, the imperialist powers are threatening to attack Iran. They often present war as a means to “liberate” the oppressed masses of Iran from the mullah regime. But as Iraq, five years after the imperialist invasion, or Afghanistan, seven years after its “liberation”, clearly show, such a war can only dramatically worsen the situation of workers, women and youth. A bombing campaign or an invasion will push them even further away from self-liberation from the dictatorial government and the capitalist system. Therefore, workers and students in Iran and internationally need to oppose this new campaign for war. In the case of an imperialist attack, Iran’s workers and students should try to form a temporary alliance with the regime and its supporters in order to defeat the invading armies. But in this case they must remain their complete political independence, so at the appropriate time they can turn the defensive war against imperialism into an offensive war against the mullahs and the capitalist system itself.

Iranian workers and youth are struggling together with their brothers and sisters in other countries of the Middle East and throughout the world against the global neoliberal trend of the present-day capitalist system. The ruling Iranian theocracy, which is inseparably bound with the interest of the exploiters, the capitalist bosses, the bureaucrats and reaction, doesn’t enough chains and religious brandy to bind or extinguish the brave Iranian workers’ movement.

  • Unconditional solidarity with Iranian workers in their struggles for better and regular wages!
  • Against any kind of short-term, “flexible” working contracts! Against all harassment of workers by mullahs and cops!
  • For the full right of workers to establish independent, democratic and base-controlled trade unions in every workplace!
  • Immediate releasing of all jailed workers and trade unionists!
  • Build self-defense committees and guards against the scabs and police!
  • Any company which doesn’t pay regular and full wages should be placed under the workers’ control! Managers who have fired strikers should be dismissed and the production should be maintained for the needs of hungry and poor communities!
  • Full solidarity with Iranian students fighting for better living condition and against oppression and bullying by both civic and clerical authorities!
  • No to an imperialist war! No to sanctions, which only hurt the poor!
  • For a socialistic Iran, which would be the center of anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist struggles of the working masses of the Middle East!

REVOLUTION International Coordination, August 8, 2008

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