Category Archives: Workers

Sadra workers go on strike and cut off the shipyard’s electricity

Today, 14 May, the workers of Sadra Shipbuilding in Bushehr, southern Iran, went on strike. They managed to cut off the electricity supply of the Sadra industrial island, where the oil and gas platforms are built. As a result all production came to a standstill for a number of hours.

The main reason for this strike, which involved 500 people, was because the workers have not been paid last month’s wages. After the electricity was cut off the shipyard’s management held negotiations with the workers’ representatives. The managers promised the workers that all their backpay will be paid by Monday [19 May].

After these negotiations the workers agreed to go back to work provisionally.

14 May 2008

Report from a correspondent of Militaant, journal of revolutionary socialist youth in Iran.

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Sadra shipbuilding workers go on strike again

On the morning of 7 April the sacked workers of Sadra’s shipbuilding factory again gathered in front of the Bushehr governor’s office – as they have done for several consecutive days. Their gathering was calm and peaceful.

The majority of the workers have worked for Sadra for over seven or eight years but, because the shipbuilding – especially the building of platforms – has been turned over to contractors, the contracts of around 400 workers have not been renewed. The contractors have brought in new and cheaper workers.

This morning’s gathering began with around 100 workers present but within less than an hour, and the governor’s refusal to respond to workers’ demands, the riot police went into action by attacking the workers. As well as injuring four or five workers they severely beat and harmed the wife of one of the workers (who was resisting her husband’s arrest).

Following this attack the workers remaining in the area dispersed down into Imam Khomeini square and street for an hour. The security forces were widely photographing those present in the area.

Around 12 noon, when the riot police were not present, around 40 or 50 workers again gathered outside the door of the governor’s office and began demanding that he addresses and resolves their problems.

This report was made at 12:30 on Monday 7 April 2008 by a correspondent of Militaant, Journal of revolutionary socialist youth in Iran.

Translator’s note: the workers’ demands included payment of unpaid wages. The Sadra workers have gone on strike many times over the past two years, including in January 2007.

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Carta abierta al presidente Chávez de los activistas obreros y estudiantiles iraníes

Sr. Hugo Chávez Frías
Presidente de la República Bolivariana de Venezuela

Estimado presidente:

Hemos escuchado las noticias de la liberación de dos rehenes de las FARC con renovada esperanza por el futuro de Colombia. La liberación de Clara Rojas y Consuelo González no sólo es un acontecimiento feliz para sus familias sino también un acontecimiento con gran potencial para la sociedad colombiana. Incluso las agencias de noticias más derechistas del mundo reconocen el papel crucial de Vuestra Excelencia en la negociación para la liberación de estas dos rehenes. El proceso de negociación que usted ha realizado ha sido difícil, ha requerido una paciencia poco común por parte de Vuestra Excelencia. Sinceramente esperamos que muchas más personas puedan reunirse con sus amigos y familiares a través de su positiva intervención para superar el abismo de comunicación que existe entre las FARC y el gobierno Uribe.

Vuestra Excelencia, creemos que su negociación y cualidades de persuasión puede ser utilizadas además para la liberación de rehenes en otras partes del mundo. EN particular, ya que ha desarrollado muy estrechas relaciones con sucesivos presidentes iraníes, esperamos que pueda utilizar su influencia para ayudar a liberar a los genuinos sindicalistas, demócratas y socialistas que hoy están encerrados en Irán. Hoy hay muchos trabajadores, estudiantes, mujeres y periodistas en las prisiones de Irán. En diciembre de 2007 unos 40 estudiantes fueron detenidos por exigir libertad y cantar La Internacional. Más de treinta de ellos aún están en prisión, con rumores de que Saeed Habibi se puede haber suicidado. Las cárceles iraníes están llenas de activistas obreros que han intentado formar sindicatos y organizar a los trabajadores en su lucha para mejorar sus salarios y condiciones de vida. Mahmood Salehi y Mansour Osanloo son dos de estos organizadores. Salehi, que sólo tiene un riñón, está en un estado crítico. Onsaloo es al dirigente del sindicato de la empresa de autobuses de Vahed. Intentó relanzar el sindicato y subir los bajos salarios de los trabajadores. Fue golpeado por los vigilantes relacionados con el régimen y encarcelado.

Vuestra Excelencia, creemos que vuestras estrechas relaciones con los líderes de la República Islámica, junto con vuestras indudables dotes de persuasión, pueden ayudar a la liberación de estos prisioneros. No son criminales: son personas que simplemente protestaban para conseguir mejores derechos para los trabajadores, estudiantes, mujeres, periodistas y otros sectores de la sociedad. Estamos seguros de que vuestra intervención en este aspecto, con un gobierno que mucho más amigable con Venezuela que la Colombia de Uribe, puede conseguir resultados positivos.

Suyos, respetuosamente.

Red de Solidaridad con los Trabajadores Iraníes (Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network)
Comité de Acción de los Trabajadores (Workers’ Action Committee Iran)
Militaant, periódico de la juventud socialista revolucionaria de Irán
13 de enero de 2008

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Open letter to President Chavez from Iranian labour and student activists

Mr Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias,

President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela

Dear Mr President:

We hear the news of the release of two of the FARC’s hostages with renewed hope for the future of Colombia. The release of Clara Rojas and Consuela Gonzalez is not only a joyous event for their families but a development with great potentials for Colombian society.

Even the most right-wing news agencies in the world acknowledge Your Excellency’s crucial role in negotiating the release of these two captives. The negotiation process that you have gone through has been a difficult one – requiring uncommon patience on Your Excellency’s part. We sincerely hope that many more people will be reunited with their families and friends through your positive intervention in bridging the communication gap between the FARC and the Uribe government.

Your Excellency, we believe that your negotiation and persuasion skills can be put to further use in the release of captives in other parts of the globe. In particular, as you have developed very close relations with successive Iranian presidents, we hope that you can use your influence to help free the genuine trade unionists, democrats and socialists locked up in Iran.

Today there are many workers, students, women and journalists in Iran’s prisons. In December 2007 around 40 students were arrested for demanding freedom, liberty and singing the Internationale. Over thirty of them are still in prison – with rumours that Saeed Habibi may have committed suicide. Iran’s jails are also full of labour activists who have tried to set up trade unions and organise workers in their struggles to improve their pay and conditions. Mahmood Salehi and Mansour Osanloo are two such organisers. Salehi, who has just one kidney, is in a critical state. He was arrested in 2004 because he tried to organise a May Day rally. Osanloo is the leader of the Vahed Bus Company trade union. He tried to re-launch the trade union and raise the workers’ low wages. He was beaten up by vigilantes connected to the regime and imprisoned.

Your Excellency, we believe that your close relations with the Islamic Republic’s leaders, together with your undoubted persuasion skills, can help free these prisoners. These are not criminals: they are people who merely protested for better rights for workers, students, women, journalists and other sections of society. We are sure that your intervention in this regard, with a government that is much friendlier to Venezuela than Uribe’s Colombia, can bring about a positive outcome.

Yours respectfully,

Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
Workers’ Action Committee (Iran)
Militaant, journal of revolutionary socialist youth in Iran.

January 13, 2008

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May Day in Tehran

Report on the May Day demonstration in Tehran

There were around five to six thousand workers. It was Shiroodi sports stadium [near Tehran] which was packed with so many workers. The Labour House[1] used its own rotten old method for dispersing the workers. Like last year it announced the venue of the gathering in one place and then held the ceremony in a different one! By the time everyone had realised where the main ceremony was being held, naturally a big number gave up on the way and went back.

Despite this, such a big number gathered in the stadium and the Labour House had the platform. It was interesting that the platform had been set up higher than the general level and to get to it you would need to do acrobatics. That, as well as the big number of Information [Ministry] officials, showed how much they feared a worker gaining access to the platform!

The angry unemployed workers interrupted the speakers and the voice of the crowd of workers below made Sadeghi and Mahjoob[2] twice as angry.

Opposite the main gate the united and strong voice of the workers drew everyone’s attention. Who were the people, who on their own day were shouting with such rage and a loud voice “Free political prisoners”, “Free Mahmoud Salehi”?

These were the workers of the Vahed Bus Company who, organised in their independent trade union, demanded their rights shouting with the most outreaching voice and suppressed rage.

In a short while their activist allies and a considerable number of workers united with them and later moved towards the platform. This immediately overshadowed the whole ceremony.

The slogan “Ossalou should speak”, “Ossalou should speak” raised the rage/anger of those above and for this reason one of the Intelligence [Ministry] personnel left his guard post up there and moved towards Mansour Ossalou with the intention of beating him. This he was not able to do. The independent workers did not take over platform, but those at the top were also not able to carry on with their planned ceremony. They were continuously booed. After reading every article of the resolution they were booed. The sound of slogans like “Workers, students, unity, unity”, “Workers, teachers, unity, unity”, “Down with capitalism’s protectors” and “Temporary contracts must be revoked”, did not allow the proceedings to stay under the control of the Labour House officials.

The roaring workers went towards the exit gates shouting their own independent slogans. When the security forces of capital saw that this fire was becoming more inflamed, it once again showed that it is the capitalists’ protector and is only armed for suppressing the workers’ movement. They attacked the workers with truncheons provided by the taxes on workers, beating the taxpayers.

The united ranks of the workers went through the police line and kept going forwards. The assaults escalated. One worker was so badly beaten that his mates took him on a stretcher to their coach.

The militant workers had reached their aims, so they decided to end the ceremony. They, with cheerful pride and honour from their unity and self-confidence, left the demonstration.

It was at this time that the police [snatch squads] began their hunt. People who had been identified were followed and arrested in quiet places. A number of students and a worker from the Vahed Company trade union were arrested. The students have now been freed, but, at the time of preparing this report there is no news on whether the arrested worker has been released. In addition, on the way to the metro station Mansour Ossalou was attacked so that he could be arrested. But the resistance of his supporters prevented his arrest.

In the afternoon the workers went to the venue for the celebrating their own day. But they were confronted with a closed door. As if workers are not supposed to celebrate their day and that this ought to be a day of mourning!

A considerable number of the people who had come in the afternoon sat in front of the closed door until the arranged time [for ending the ceremony]. They had ice cream, sweets and held discussions amongst themselves and on today’s ceremony. A lively May Day was recorded in their history.

Long live workers’ unity!

Militant magazine’s reporter
1 May 2007

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