Below is a speech given by an Iranian worker activist Behrooz Khabaz on 22/10/2010 in Sweden at meeting in solidarity with Iranian workers and organising support for imprisoned activist Mahmood Salehi.
Greetings friends and comrades
In this speech first of all I am going to discuss to the general situation of workers in Iran and then I will talk about the role of worker activists inside and outside of Iran and their connection with the workers movement in Iran.
As you know, since long ago, the capitalist regime of Iran, has started a broad invasion to the working conditions and subsistence level of workers in Iran, it was started by the fifth Period of the Parliament and continued and became more prominent during Khatami’s presidential time, and it is going on more severely now.
In this limited time, I will try to show the actual image of the workers life and work situation, based on what I have personally faced and witnessed, the workers Campaign particularly became more active after labor contracts mainly turned to be temporary contracts which gradually even transformed to white signed contracts (which allows the employer to decide for every thing in the contract and the worker is only signing a white paper!) also when contractor companies started to take over. These companies were mainly started in the period of President Hashemi Rafsanjani, with the goal of creating cheap labor, and making the government free from their obligations toward the workers, and until now we can see that these companies are growing.
Capitalist regime of Iran, relying on millions of jobless people, relying on low level of subsistence, relying on job insecurity and also relying on its militia force keeps suppressing the working class more and more. Employed workers, have a nightmare that constantly threatens them: to be fired or unemployed! So they keep on working with a monthly wage that could not even cover the expenses of ten days of their life, and the smallest protest will be responded by a brutal repression of the capitalist regime, so they work with any condition until they are dismissed from work, or the factory is shut down, could you believe that their basic request is that this little salary is not postponed for months? When they go on a strike it is usually to demand the wage that they have not been paied for months or even years!
and we know through all the sources the first reason of the workers protests in Iran is first of all for these unpaid salaries and then to dismissal and closure of the factory!
In my opinion, the basic demands of workers in Iran are: the increase of wage, job security and freedom of association and workers organization, but the Iranian capitalism using all means of oppression has succeeded to suppress the workers, to make them be conservatives not to loose their jobs…. Not to take part in their co workers protests and strikes, to work extra all the time to earn a bit more and try to find the second and even the third job!
Iran’s current regime, with this overwhelming pressure, deprives workers from reaching their most basic demands, prevents workers to organize and to be united with the other progressive social movements. It has even forced workers to make little workplaces inside their homes to be able to make a living!!!! In their houses all the family has to work to make stuff etc and sell it for a very little money just to be able to survive, the workers children usually cant keep on studying and have to drop out of school and work in the under workshops…..
Due to this sad picture of the lives of Iran’s working class, the role of workers activists in Iran in fueling the movement and taking it forward should be really appreciated. They have done so much in the past years to defend the working class such as: organizing the demonstrations of the May days, leading and supporting workers strikes and protests etc, although many workers activists have been arrested and threatened and mistreated by the state we have had successes such as: the organization of Tehran’s bus drivers, the organization of Haft Tape (sugar companies) etc.
Due to the actively of the pioneer worker activists, the voice of the Iranian working class is heard all over the world. We hope that the worker activists in Iran become more aware of the complications of class struggle in Iran and keep on with the struggle with the aim of: uniting the workers struggles making organizations of different types and being active in them and training new members and activists who could take over in case the leaders are imprisoned.
In the end I should mention the important roll of the worker activists who live in exile, the ones who are concerned about the workers movement inside Iran all the time, and they do not want to lead, but support this movement, and they prefer the benefits of the working class over any other benefit, these activists could do a great roll in supporting the movement and to encourage the workers organizations and movements in solidarity with the Iranian working class.
Thank you all