‘Peace dividend’ for Iranian workers?

For many decades the Iranian regime has justified its repression of workers’ rights (as well as women, national and religious minorities, the youth, the disabled, LGBTQ people, writers, artists and the vast majority of the population) because of war, military skirmishes, diplomatic disputes and so on.

The economic hardship and social meltdown that workers and the poor have had to endure have all been blamed on the ongoing ‘cold war’ with the imperialist countries. Yet the signing of the nuclear deal in July 2015 has not brought about a ‘peace dividend’! All that has happened is that multi-billion euro deals have been signed and the regime’s functionaries have become even richer. Luxury cars and goods have flooded in.

Despite the regime’s dodgy economic figures – with unemployment supposedly at 11.8% and inflation 8-9% – working class families feel that making ends meet is not becoming any easier. On top of the declining economic and social situation the regime is trying to make investment in Iran’s decrepit and declining industries even more profitable for capitalists. With around 70% of industries still state-owned, privatisation is a big objective. Sacking workers and other methods that are supposed to make companies more profitable are commonplace (e.g., the Iran Transfo strike in August 2016). The regime is also watering down the already weak Labour Code, expanding the Special Economic Zones, ripping up contracts and so on. Unpaid wages continue to be a big problem, and when workers find out the salaries and bonuses of the managers (as with the Iran Khodro car plant recently), there are huge protests.

Now that the ‘cold war’ has ended more and more workers are taking action. Through strikes, protests and other forms of struggle, they are making it clear that they have had enough of waiting for the bosses and regime officials to alleviate their situation. They are organising their strikes and protests despite the ban on trade unions and having no legal right to strike or protest.

The regime knows only one way of dealing with protests: mediaeval brutality! Beatings, imprisonment on trumped up charges, physical torture, solitary confinement, frequent transfers, denial of medical care, denial of visits and so on are among the methods used to suppress genuine labour activists trying to set up independent trade unions and other workers’ organisations. In May 2016 the regime flogged 17 gold miners – a method banned in Britain since the reign of Queen Anne in early 18th century!

When all these methods do not deter labour activists the regime just kills them. On September 13th 2015, Shahrokh Zamani, the well-known labour activist imprisoned in Karaj’s Rajai Shahr prison, was found dead by his cell-mates. We hold the Iranian regime responsible for Shahrokh’s death and will be launching a campaign in his memory to continue his struggle and highlight and help the coming big battles of the Iranian working class.

  • Free all jailed labour activists now!
  • The right to strike is an absolute right!
  • Raise wages in line with inflation!
  • Long live international workers’ solidarity!

Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign
1 September 2016

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