The veteran labour activist and political analyst Majid Tamjidi, who now lives in exile, will be joining our weekend school on Saturday April 21 at 2.30pm.
He will address the vital issue of ‘How sanctions and the Islamic regime destroy the Iranian working class’.
His intervention comes at a time when thousands of jobs are being lost. Many people have returned from the New Year holidays on April 1 to be told that their jobs have gone. Others haven’t been paid for many months. We know of many people who now have to move out of their homes, because they cannot pay the rent anymore.
The Iranian theocracy has played a big part in destroying the once so mighty Iranian working class – but the sanctions are doing the rest. Some believe that sanctions are an alternative to war. But in reality, they are a form of wardesigned to soften up a country for regime change from above. But the ruling elites in the US, the UK and Israel have no interest in establishing genuine democracy in Iran – or their own countries, actually. The interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan brutally underlined this.
The official rate of unemployment in Iran stands at 12% (although most commentators estimate it is at least double that) and the pressure on the Iranian car industry perfectly illustrates how sanctions impoverish the working class:
- Iran Khodro (one of the country’s three major car manufacturers) employs 150,000 workers and most of these are now at risk. At the end of the Iranian new year holidays (April 1), large numbers of workers in the industrial/manufacturing sector who returned to work were sent home. Sanctions impact on the economy, but Iranian bosses also use them to discipline their workforces.
- Workers from Shahab Khodro car manufacturers, some with 20 years experience, were told their jobs had simply disappeared when they came back from the holidays.
- In Iran Khodro, 30% of contracts have not been renewed (the overwhelming majority of Iranian workers are now contracted labourers thanks to the theocracy’s willingness to follow the dictates of the IMF/World Bank).
- Iran’s car manufacturing industry is also facing a serious crisis after Peugeot Citroen, fearing the enforcement of US-led financial sanctions, stopped its trade in February. Iran was Peugeot Citroen’s second-biggest market in 2011 in terms of trade volume. However it came under increasing pressure after a US lobby group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), called on the US Congress to investigate the French car company’s transactions with the Islamic Republic.
- At the same time, the theocracy increases the pressure on labour activists and oppositionists. For example, Vahed bus drivers’ union executive member Reza Shahabi has been sentenced to 6 years in prison and a further five year ban from trade union activism. He has also been ordered to return around secen million Toman’s which had been raised in solidarity to help imprisoned trade union activists. This is after two and a half years in prison for being arrested on charges of “propaganda activities against the regime” and another five years for “collusion to act against national security.” These are the typical charges activists face for standing up against oppression and fighting for the working class.