An update by the IASWI; and Current situation and progressive practices:
The launch of “Kargar (Worker) TV”
A call for support and solidarity with Haft Tapeh workers (English translation of Ali Nejati’s second Open letter to all workers-Dated November ۷, ۲۰۰۹)
Open letter to International Labour Organization from The Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company
Greetings to all;
An update by the IASWI:
Since summer ۲۰۰۹, the IASWI activists and colleagues have been involved in supporting the people’s struggles in Iran in recent months by contributing to the formation of alliances and initiatives amongst progressive forces in abroad in support of workers’ and people’s struggles in Iran. Our colleagues in the UK organized weekly protests outside Iranian embassy and in other locations in London in collaboration with other progressive groups. They also helped organizing activities on June ۲۶th day of action in London as well as a solidarity night with workers in Iran. In Canada, our colleagues helped in formation of a joint non-partisan campaign in support of workers in Iran and a progressive council in support of people’s struggles in Iran. Our activists also helped organizing two rallies outside the Iranian embassy in Ottawa, one was on June ۲۶th day of action in collaboration with a number of unions and labour activists. Our colleagues in France, Switzerland and Sweden have been engaged in support of progressive movements in Iran and in Paris they engaged in a number of protests since June ۲۰۰۹. Our Farsi website has continued to work regularly, but the English website has had some technical difficulties, which has been mostly rectified.
Meanwhile we have continued, though more slowly because of the above factors, to work on a number of worker-related issues and initiatives.
Current situation and progressive practices:
It is important to emphasize that the Iranian labour movement and its progressive groups and organizations boycotted the June ۲۰۰۹ presidential election. The labour movements never supported any factions of the Islamic Republic regime. Likewise, the IASWI supports people’s independent struggles against repression of their rights and freedoms and for freedom, equality and social and economic justice for all. We also call on the freedom of all political prisoners in Iran including all workers and labour activists. We do not support Mousavi’s “green movement” which is a pro-capitalist/ pro-Islamic Republic project by the so called “reformists” within the Islamic regime of Iran. We certainly differentiate between people’s struggles and daily protests in recent months for freedom and equality and Mousavi’s, Karoubi’s and Khatami’s … “green movement”. We strongly support people's struggles against the Islamic Republic and for social, economic and political justice; at the same time, the recent history has proven that when it comes to the working class, all factions within the Iranian ruling class, from employers’ organizations to the “supreme leader” Khamenei to former president, Mohammad Khatami, to the current president Ahmadinejad to former prime minister, Mirhossein Mousavi, … have no hesitation whatsoever to stand brutally against workers’ rights and freedoms. Workers have clearly shown that they need their own independent organizations and working class autonomy in order to move forward and achieve their rights and demands. We believe this is the most effective way, which would also allow workers as a class to support and lead people’s movement for freedom and equality in Iran. Needless to say, there have been many steps forwards and some backwards in recent years; however, as you can see below in the letters written by the leadership of the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers’ Syndicate, we now have numerous labour leaders and activists in Iran that are assertively demanding their rights, and are calling on all workers’ organizations in Iran and around the world to support them. They are also asserting that they would very much prefer all labour and progressive organizations around the world to connect with them directly and they would like to connect with other workers in other countries directly as well. This is a major principle of worker to worker solidarity, which makes solidarity initiatives transparent and bottom-up.
When the IASWI was formed in ۱۹۹۹, we could rarely see the existing level of open activism by workers and their representatives inside Iran. Although, despite ongoing government repression, there have always been struggles, protests and walk outs, what we see today and in the past five years, with many activists courageously taking risks and openly challenging the status quo, is a great achievement. This also calls on all of us in solidarity movements in support of workers in Iran to evaluate our work and identify the best practices for future.
Workers in Iran are showing the new path to us. They are saying to all of us that they still need workers’ support and solidarity even more strongly than before; at the same time, they are saying that they want to see more direct worker to worker and more transparent solidarity initiatives. They are also providing their direct contact information so activists around the world can directly link with them. They are making it abundantly clear that the working class in Iran is hoping to mutually rely on their fellow sisters and brothers and comrades and their genuine organizations in Iran and other countries; and that’s the way to go. The IASWI totally supports that and will do our best to promote it.
Other Updates and Reports:
The launch of “Kargar (Worker) TV”
In September ۲۰۰۹, Kargar (Worker) TV has been launched by independent Iranian labour activists. The Kargar TV states that it is an independent voice of the Iranian labour movement. KT is launched by an editorial committee consisting of Iranian labour activists to be a voice for all workers and their real organizations in Iran. It is therefore fully independent from all political parties and groups. It will be televised every Friday afternoon, ۵:۳۰ to ۶:۳۰ PM, and rebroadcasted the same time every Saturday. The Kargar TV’s programs include the latest news of workers’ struggles in Iran, labour education, international news about workers’ struggles in other parts of the world and interviews with workers and labour activists.
The IASWI congratulates the Kargar TV and urges labour organizations and activists in other parts of the world to support them in any possible ways you can. For more information, please contact Kargar TV directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
The HOT BIRD™ satellites
A call for support and solidarity with Haft Tapeh workers
(English translation of Ali Nejati’s second Open letter to all workers-Dated November ۷, ۲۰۰۹)
As of today four members of the board of directors’ of “Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate” by names of Feriadon Nikofard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ghorban Alipour, and Mohammad Haidari have been sent to jail and are currently incarcerated in Dezfol prison. In a few days the judicial system will also impose my prison sentence.
We have struggled to: secure our rights defend Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ honorable rights, to obtain most basic living resources, and human rights, but we are condemned and incarcerated.
In the past few days we have written an open letter to International Labor Organization, and sent a copy of it to worker’s organizations, human rights institutions and the media. We know that they are aware of the injustices imposed on Iranian workers. We know there is no one but workers themselves who can institute justice. But we went to the final step and asked all of them, are you uninformed? Are you going to do anything? We are aware that it will not result in effective actions on their part. We are aware that creation of workers autonomous organizations is workers’ inalienable right.
While employers are entitled to freely have their organizations, workers who start their independent organizations are condemned and incarcerated. We believe that only through workers’ own initiatives, with unity and solidarity amongst us, we will be able to achieve our goals and demands.
I and my colleagues at Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate will be incarcerated for six months. During the past eight months since I was expelled from work, there were more than a few workers that besides giving me moral and spiritual support, to the extent that it was possible for them, also financially supported me. Although these amounts were far less that the wage I used to earn, but for me it was worth a thousand times more than any other assistance, because it demonstrated that workers were well aware that my co-workers and I were fighting to defend their rights. For this very reason, and based on my belief, the only help I received was from workers. Though the total amount was less than enough to support even my previous level of living, but it was highly valuable.
Such assistance made me indebted to my working class colleagues, instead of my relying on any other institutions, persons or places. We hope that this working class tradition become a common practice amongst all workers.
Until I was the only one expelled, the assistance from my co-workers was sufficient, but today in addition to me there are four other workers who are being deprived from receiving their wages. Many friends have asked how could other workers, - who don’t have face to face contact with the families of these five incarcerated workers-, express their solidarity by giving their financial aid to the families of the imprisoned workers.
Today at ۱۱:۴۵ AM, before two more of my friends were sent to court and jail, in the last contact with them, and in agreement with them and other co-workers, we all reached a consensus that a bank account under my name shall be established, so all financial aid from workers could be deposited there, and through that financial assistance will be provided to imprisoned workers’ families. (The account number will soon be publicly announced).
Now is the time to support workers who have struggled for workers’ rights at Haft Tapeh, and were elected by Sugarcane workers to represent them in an independent organization, and today are sentenced to prison terms only because of defending their labor rights. Without a doubt, tomorrow and afterward when we are not in prison, we also will take part in this endeavor.
My advance gratitude to Haft Tapeh workers and all other workers for their support; I hope that through our unity and solidarity for creations of independent workers’ organizations, we will achieve our righteous goals and demands.
Hoping for workers unity
President of the board of directors of the Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Company
Saturday ۱۶th of month of Abban, year ۱۳۸۸
November ۷, ۲۰۰۹
Please contact me directly with this email address: email@example.com
Dear Sir / Madam
Hereby kindly you can find attached the letter of the "Syndicate of workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company" to ILO.
in this letter we have asked ILO whether they are aware of what happening to Iranian workers ,and haft tape ( khuzestan province ) as well ,Whether they are aware of what happening to the independent workers organizations in Iran or not? And is ILO going to take any effective action against Iranian authorities?
please forward this letter to : labour organizations, human rights groups and media
For more information or any correspondence with our Haft Tapeh Workers’ Syndicate in future, please email us directly to firstname.lastname@example.org
director of board, Syndicate of the workers of haft tape sugar cane company.
To: International Labour Organization (ILO)
From: The Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company
Cc: Labour organizations, Human rights groups and media
Subject: Appeal for actions to prevent the Government of Iran from violating Conventions ۹۸ and ۸۷
We, workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company, have faced continuing violation of our rights and demands, including non-payments of our wages for several months, in addition to the concerted efforts by the employer to cease sugar cane plantation and eventually closing down the factory and privatizing the company. We workers of Haft Tapeh are foreseeing mass layoffs. They have already stopped paying us for our over-time work.
Workers organized protests and rallies from ۲۰۰۶ to ۲۰۰۹, and through peaceful means complained to legal authorities about the situation; however, all this did not achieve any results and our delayed wages were not paid and even some workers were persecuted. The Islamic Labour Council, which is a sham “worker” organization affiliated to the government and the employer has done nothing to help achieve our rights. Other places are facing similar situation.
Having said the above, the main reason for writing this to you is as follows:
In October ۲۰۰۸, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers organized their general assembly and elected their representatives under the name of the Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company (Sandikaa-ye Kargaran-e Sherkat-e Neyshekar-e Haft Tapeh). In addition to a number of national and international laws, we also referred to the ILO conventions ۹۸ and ۸۷.
We believe that we have every right to form our independent labour organization. Accordingly, ۹ workers were elected as representatives of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers in a general election by workers. This was the first time in more than four decades that thousands of workers participated freely and enthusiastically in an election to choose their own representatives.
Unfortunately, both before and after our election, we, the representatives of four thousand workers and other members of the board of directors of the Syndicate, were arrested, jailed and interrogated numerous times; our families have been under pressure and were persecuted by the intelligence forces. We were taken to the court recurrently using allegations like “action against national security “against us. The president of our board of directors, Ali Nejati, was incarcerated in a solitary confinement for about ۴۰ days and was subjected to constant interrogation and mistreatment. Finally, Mr. Nejati was fired from work in March ۲۰۰۹ by the intelligence office and the company’ security department.
The court has issued one year imprisonment (which has been divided into ۶ months of incarceration and ۶ months of suspended imprisonment) and other fines and social restrictions against five members of the Haft Tapeh Workers Syndicate’s board of directors, Ali Nejati, Jalil Ahmadi, Feridoun Nikoufard, Ghorban Alipour and Mohammad Heydari mehr. Subsequently, they were also banned from working for the company.
The following explanations have been given in their court orders for the above sentences:
“Acting against national security through the formation of a syndicate outside the law”!
We are asking the International Labour Organization:
- Is the Iranian government permissible to violating fundamental conventions like ۹۸ and ۸۷?
- Isn’t the Iranian government a permanent member of the ILO?
- Has the Iranian government ever been held accountable for its actions?
- Why are workers being jailed, fired, persecuted, interrogated and tortured for creating their own independent trade organizations?
- Shouldn’t the Iranian government be accountable for its repressive actions against the representatives of the Vahed Workers’ Syndicate including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi over and above the Haft Tapeh workers’ representatives?
- Shouldn’t the Iranian government be told that it cannot imprison workers (over ۱۵۰ in Tehran May Day event) for organizing a peaceful commemoration of the International Workers’ Day? That they must not put on trial, flog or jail workers for celebrating the May Day, (for instance Mahmoud Salehi who was jailed for one year)?
- Is the ILO aware of the government actions against teachers’ representatives and the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association? … And so on and so forth.
We, workers and members of the board of directors of the Haft Tapeh Workers’ Syndicate, are writing this letter while the police is involved in intimidating and terrorizing our families. The police have been acting, in our cities of Shoush, Haft Tapeh and Andimeshk, as though we are criminals and fugitives. We are writing this while awaiting to be arrested and sent to prison for the above unjust sentences; and while our names have been put on the company’s entrance as offenders that are not allowed to enter the workplace. If we go to our work the police will arrest us and that will give them another excuse to further penalize us. It is very strange that if we go to work they arrest us and if we don’t they’ll treat us as absentees which would justify sacking us altogether which would lead to our arrest and imprisonment. This vicious cycle has been orchestrated in a way that at the end of the day we will be both sacked and imprisoned. Thus, we don’t know when you’re going to be reading this letter whether we would be in jail or not.
Nevertheless, we are hoping that you will be pressuring the Iranian government to respect some of the most basic rights of Haft Tapeh workers and workers across Iran including the freedom to form workers’ independent organizations.
We are not afraid of any consequences for ourselves in the path that we have chosen for the achievement of our rights, but we are hoping that, in jail, we would hear that the ILO has taken all necessary measures concerning the inhumane actions of the Iranian government and the violations of conventions ۹۸ and ۸۷. We will anticipate to hearing about your actions in this regard.
Should workers pin any hope on the ILO?
We, and many workers in Iran, will look forward to seeing an actual outcome of your effort.
Will ever any effective action be taken?!!
The Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company
(stamped and signed by : )
Ali Nejati, President of the Board of Directors
Feridoun Nikoufard, the Vice-President of the Board of Directors
Jalil Ahmadi, member of the Board of Directors and representative on industry affairs
Reza Rakhshan, member of the Board of Directors and Responsible for Public Relations and Education
Haft Tapeh, Shoush, Khozestan Province, Iran
October ۲۴, ۲۰۰۹
Report of demonstration at Iranian Embassy in Ottawa
About two hundred Canadian union and human rights activists and the Iranian-Canadian labour and progressive organizations including the Solidarity Campaign with the Workers’ Struggles in Iran and the IASWI gathered outside the Iranian embassy to condemn the repression of workers and people in Iran and demand the freedom of all arrested workers and political prisoners in Iran.
The protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Ottawa on June ۲۶th was also in support of a Global Day of Action which had been called to support the rights of workers and against the persecution of labour activists. The CUPE, CUPW, CTF, NUPGE, PSAC and CAW also wrote a strong joint letter to the Iranian embassy in Ottawa. The rally received considerable media coverage including by CBC, CTV, Ottawa Citizen, etc. About ۱۵ speakers addressed the rally including, Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada; Denis Lemelin, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers; Paul Dewar, MP Ottawa Centre, NDP Foreign Affairs Critic; Rhonda Spence, International Officer, Canadian Union of Public Employees; Emily Noble, President of the Canadian Teachers’ Federation, Stuart Ryan of the Communist Party of Canada and a number of Iran labour, human rights and progressive political groups.
Demonstrators called for: Free all arrested workers, students and political prisoners; Justice for people who have been killed or injured by security forces during recent protests in Iran; For the right to organize independent organizations and for the right to free speech, protest and freedom of assembly; Free bus workers’ union leaders, Mansour Osanloo, and Ebrahim Madadi, and Farzad Kamangar, a teacher on death row; Drop all charges and prison sentences against labour, social and political activists in Iran, including May Day detainees and those arrested during recent protests.
For more information, please contact:
International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
www.workers-iran.org / http://www.etehadbinalmelali.com/INDEXI.htm