Translator’s Note: The following joint resolution by seven independent Iranian labor unions and organizations was issued on May 1, 2015 amidst a growing wave of strikes by workers, protests by teachers and nurses, and arrests of union leaders. The resolution specifically targets “the capitalist system which rules Iran …cannot and does not want to put an end to the existing unbearable situation.” The resolution further opposes discrimination against women, ethnic, national, religious minorities and Afghan migrant workers. In conclusion, it states: “We condemn the escalating war and killings in the Middle East region. In our view, this horrible situation, the unprecedented rise of terrorist organizations and the policies of terror in the countries of the region are caused by the dead end which capitalist relations have reached in their failure to satisfy the needs of human beings today, and by the anti-human policies of western and regional governments.” The original Persian text can be found on the website of the “Free Union of Iranian Workers.”
Joint May Day Resolution of Independent Iranian Workers’ Organizations
May 1, 2015
Today, we have come together in solidarity at a time when a large and united movement of workers, teachers, nurses and other toiling masses in Iran is in the process of formation around the issue of subsistence and ending poverty and squalor.
The occurrence of tens of workers’ strikes around the country, endless gatherings of teachers, united protests of nurses and the expansion of workers’ struggles in the form of participation by family members at protests, petitions, gatherings in front of the parliament and Ministry of Labor and daily protests in key industries such as petrochemical, mining and automobile production, all reveal aspects of the objective development of this social movement. By creating powerful, united and nationwide protests, this movement aims to challenge the absolute lack of rights and deprivation imposed on millions of working class families.
This movement is gaining ever broader dimensions under the following circumstances: The capitalist system which rules Iran is the scene of a struggle over how to plunder a larger share of our wages. It cannot and does not want to put an end to the existing unbearable situation. That is why it has ratified a monthly minimum wage of 712,000 Tomans ($235) and shamelessly congratulates us on such a humiliating wage. It ferociously steals from this meager and shameful wage by not paying it on time, by cutting subsidies, increasing prices daily, removing the controls on the price of bread, and imposing a 9% value added tax on staple good. By repressing justified labor protests, holding mass trials of protesting workers and sentencing them to flogging and long prison terms, it aims at forcing the Iranian working class to submit to the present situation and to something even more miserable.
There is no doubt that imposing increasing poverty and squalor on millions of working class families and further intensifying the repression against labor protests will not create an escape for the capitalist system that dominates Iran. Rather, workers and all of Iran’s toiling people are being challenged to enter a defining battle against the existing situation. Soon, in the face of such lack of rights, repression, desperation and hopelessness concerning the inability to earn our basic subsistence, the boiling anger of Iran’s workers and toilers will weaken the ground on which the agents and perpetrators of this situation stand. Thus, we the undersigned warn against the continuation of the policies which impose poverty and squalor, and the unprecedented intensification in the repression of labor protests. In denouncing the continuation of such policies, we state our demands as the following and insist that these demands be met:
- We condemn the 712,000 Toman ($235) monthly minimum wage which has been imposed on the working class through a puppet show involving the government, managers, so-called labor representatives and the deceptive atmosphere created by official and government media. We strongly demand an immediate revision of the official minimum wage and its increase to 3,000,000 Tomans ($1000) per month based on the cost of a consumer basket of goods and services according to modern living standards.
- We wholeheartedly defend the justified and relentless protests of teachers and nurses. The unity and oneness of the struggles of all Iranian toilers and the increasing manifestation of this unity as a social and nationwide struggle is the only way to end the existing deprivation. We call for the immediate realization of all the demands of teachers and nurses.
- We strongly condemn the efforts of the government and the House of Labor*(official labor union) to impose state-sponsored unions on Iran’s working class. These are unions which are organized from above through the creation of guilds and so-called associations. We call for the creation of syndicates, councils and independent labor organizations by workers at worksites, demand an end to any prohibition and limitation on the creation of these organizations, and oppose the intervention of the government and managers in these organizations.
- We strongly condemn any repression of labor and popular protests. We condemn widespread executions and abominable verdicts which call for flogging and long prison terms for protesting workers, or impose inhuman conditions on imprisoned labor activists and other prisoners. We demand an immediate end to executions, the abolition of the death penalty and flogging, the immediate and unconditional release of all workers and political prisoners, and an end to legal proceedings against them.
- The unconditional right to strike, protest, march, assembly, freedom of speech, opinion, association and press should be recognized as self-evident and irrevocable social rights of workers and all the people of Iran.
- Workers’ unpaid wages must be paid immediately and without any excuses. Any delay in the payment of wages must be subject to legal action, and workers must be indemnified for any damages caused by such late payment.
- We demand guaranteed job security, an end to enslaving temporary labor contracts, and “blank check” contracts [which include no rights and benefits for workers—tr.], the elimination of temporary labor and labor contracting agencies, the extension of labor law protection to all workers employed by small workshops and all workers employed in free enterprise zones, and the introduction of immediate insurance coverage for construction workers.
- We strongly condemn the ratification of any anti-labor legislation under any title. By pointing out the existence of anti-labor articles in the existing labor law, we demand that it be changed through the intervention of genuine representatives of workers.
- We consider the daily increase in the number of deadly and injurious workplace accidents to be the result of the managers’ unreal expectations, the profit motive, and the obliteration of workers’ most basic human and social rights. We demand the immediate enforcement of the highest safety standards at the workplace.
- The expulsions and layoffs of workers under any pretexts have to be stopped. All who are unemployed or have reached the age of employment and are not employed, should benefit from unemployment insurance compatible with modern living standards.
- All laws which discriminate against women should be abolished immediately. Complete and unconditional equality of women and men in all arenas of social, economic, political, cultural and family life should be recognized.
- All retirees should benefit from a comfortable life, and any discrimination or inequality in the payment of pensions and benefits should be removed. While we insist that one of the government’s main responsibilities is to provide free healthcare as a fundamental right of the people of Iran, we demand the reversal of the plan to combine the social security fund with universal healthcare. We call for the immediate and public prosecution of those who have plundered this fund. This fund should be placed under the control of representatives elected by public assemblies of employed and retired workers, without any influence from the government and managers.
- Any form of child labor should be absolutely abolished. Children regardless of sex, economic and social status, national, racial and religious identities, should benefit from complete social security, free and equal educational opportunities, health benefits and amenities.
- We demand the removal of any discrimination against migrant Afghan workers and other nationalities in Iran, and call for an immediate end to their expulsion and the granting of citizenship rights to this group of fellow class members.
- By emphasizing the exploitative nature of the capitalist system around the world, and by expressing our appreciation for the solidarity which international labor organizations have extended to the struggles of Iranian workers, we declare our support for labor protests around the world and stress the need for international labor solidarity.
- We condemn the escalating war and killings in the Middle East region. In our view, this horrible situation, the unprecedented rise of terrorist organizations and the policies of terror in the countries of the region are caused by the dead end which capitalist relations have reached in their failure to satisfy the needs of human beings today, and by the anti-human policies of western and regional governments. By calling on workers and all freedom-seeking people around the world to protest against war and destruction in the Middle East region, we demand an immediate end to this war.
- May Day or International Workers’ Day should be declared an official holiday. All restrictions and limitations on ceremonies commemorating this day should be abolished.
The following labor organizations are the signatories of this resolution:
The Free Union of Iranian Workers
Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers’ Guild
Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate
Alborz Province Painters and Decorators’ Union
Center for the Defenders of Workers’ Rights
Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organizations
Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Labor Unions
Translated by Frieda Afary
May 3, 2015
I would like to thank Hoshang Tareh Gol for reading this translation and making helpful suggestions. F.A.