On the occasion of the International Labor Day on 1 May, seven Iranian labor organizations have published a statement, objecting to the violations of Iranian workers’ most basic rights. “While all over the world, the workers’ show their joy and passion and will to fight on 1 May, and their free million-strong protests against their living conditions shake the world, Iranian workers are not only deprived of the social rights to establish organizations and street protests, they are exposed to the most severe attacks on their lives and livelihood”, the statement expresses. The statement briefly describes the current state of affairs for Iranian workers and illustrates the many problems they currently face.
The seven labor organizations are the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Iran Free Trade Union, the Committee To Restart The Paint and Decoration Construction Workers Syndicate, The Committee To Restart the Mechanical Metal Workers Syndicate, Center For The Defense of Workers, The Committee To Pursue Building Labor Coalitions, and The Coordinating Committee To Help Establish Labor Organizations.
“Any objection or demand of rights by the workers is answered with arrests and prison; the so-called ‘Targeted Subsidies’ plan which have been started by the ruling capitalists with the help of international capitalist organizations, is further destroying the lives and livelihoods of millions of workers’ families, and no one has the right to freely express their opinion about this; with the dizzying rise in the prices of energy and factory closures, every day hundreds and thousands of workers join the other unemployed millions, and the unemployment insurance laws are changed to the detriment of the workers simultaneously; hospitals and government medical centers collect co-payments from workers and new obstacles are created for retirement benefits; the construction workers’ insurance is made ineffective in the labyrinth of office hallways; and while they have taken measures which would increase the prices of basic staples at an alarming pace, they have insultingly reduced the minimum wages of workers by 9%,” says the statement, describing the current conditions of Iranian workers.
“From our viewpoint, all these actions will result in nothing but further desperation for earning a livelihood and imposition of poverty and an increasing state of misery for the millions of labor families who are unable to provide a minimum livelihood under the current circumstances. But we, the workers, will not be mere observers of the gradual deaths of ourselves, our spouses, and our children. We shall not tolerate the daily attacks on our lives and livelihood, and will persevere united and seamlessly against poverty and misery and the imposed deprivation of social rights,” said the seven labor organizations.
“We, the Iranian workers, express disgust at the the existing situation, and call on everyone all over the country to raise their demands in a united and sweeping way,” express the labor organizations, asking for immediate action on the following demands:
1. The unconditional freedom to set up independent labor organizations, to strike, to protest, to demonstrate, and to have freedom of belonging to political parties, freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and a free press are our inalienable rights and while all government-made organizations must be eliminated from the work and living environments, these demands must be formally recognized as indisputable social rights of the Iranian workers and general public.
2. We will not stand for a society in which a minority holds wealth and huge capital, and the majority have no dinner at night. In our opinion, the 9% wage increase, especially in view of the plan to cease subsidies and the accelerated increase in living expenses, is an insult to human decency and the workers’ right to live. We consider such wages an increasing imposition of poverty and absolute misery on millions of labor families. We reject the current manner of determining the wages and emphatically demand a cessation of the plan to cut subsidies and that wages are determined by the workers’ real representatives according to the highest standards of life for today’s human beings.
3. We demand the elimination of the temporary and blanket contracts and the elimination of contractors and [we demand] direct group contracts, providing workers with job security, and observation of the highest standards of hygiene and safety inside work and living environments.
4. The outstanding wages of workers must be paid immediately and without any excuses and the failure to pay them must be treated as a crime which may be pursued in the judicial system, and the related damages must be payed to the workers.
5. Dismissing the workers and making them unemployed on a variety of excuses must end and all those who have been dismissed or who have reached working age [but are unemployed] must be able to have unemployment benefits sufficient for human living.
6. Though today Iran’s Social Security Organization is an organization with astronomical wealth supplied by the efforts and funds of Iranian workers, the organization is involved in a cycle of profits and profit-making, only concerning itself with reducing medical services and receiving co-payments from sick workers. We consider social security insurance as the inalienable right of all members of the society and demand this organization to be managed in the hands of representatives of workers from all over the country.
7. While we condemn any attack on worker and public protests, we demand the revocation of death sentences and immediate and unconditional release of all imprisoned workers and members of other social movements, and an end to the judicial proceedings against them, and an end to the existing security atmosphere.
8. We demand that all laws that are discriminatory to women be revoked, and that the total and unconditional equality of men’s and women’s rights is guaranteed in all social, economic, political, cultural, and family realms.
9. We demand that all retired individuals have access to a comfortable life, free of economic concerns, and that all discrimination in the retirement wages of the retirees is eliminated and that they are all covered by social security and medical insurance.
10. Child labor must end. Children and their parents must have complete and full social security, access to uniform and free education, welfare, and medical coverage, regardless of their family’s economic and social status, their gender, ethnic, racial, and religious ties.
11. We consider the demand for change an inalienable right of all human beings all over the world and through assertive support of people’s struggles and protests in all Middle East countries, we strongly condemn any government crackdown on public protests or plots to change the directions of the people’s demands, and any kind of intervention in the fate of the people of the Middle East.
12. We are a part of the international labor force and condemn the deportation and imposition of any discrimination on the refugee workers from Afghanistan or any other country.
13. We appreciate the international labor and public support of the Iranian workers’ struggles, and we assertively support the protests and demands of workers all over the world and consider ourselves united with them. Now, more than any other time, we emphasize the international solidarity of workers for release from the hardships of capitalist system.
14. First of May must be made a national holiday and included in the official calendar of the country, and all limitations and bans on holding ceremonies on this day must be removed.