Workers in Iran, January 1, 2016, nr 9
Workers’ protest in the last two weeks is a sign of high and widespread protest among workers, and better put, a new chapter in workers’ struggle. It is safe to say that thousands of workers have been involved in struggle during the last two weeks, and these protests are ongoing. Specific to these protests are: militancy, continuance, long span, and issuance of ultimatum to orchestrate larger protests; and all these are happening in a vibrant social context. For example, the area around the parliament has turned to a place of daily gathering by workers and people. A special point to note in these struggles is the involvement of key industries and large labor complexes such as petroleum industry and large service industries with large number of clients. And this has given a heavy social and political weight to these protests. Aside from being a resistance against the regime’s attack on workers’ life and livelihood, these struggles are a big no to the Rouhani’s government, to his promises, to his austerity measures under the titles such as 6 Months Economic Package to get out of recession, Sixth Economic Development, and so on, which challenges the whole of the state.
Such a space of struggle and protest has given an important weight and place to workers’ movement in the fluid political conditions of the society. And, Workers’ protests, as a permanent arena of struggle in society, today, more than any other time, plays a crucial role in changing the balance of power in society towards peoples’ struggle and coming to the forth of the whole of the society with immediate and general demands. It suffices to have a look at the prominent examples of these protests in recent days in order to get a clearer picture from the things are that happening, and to get a better understanding of the strength and place of these struggles. Prominent examples of these protests are as follows:
– The protest of hundreds of high voltage operators representing 5000 workers in front of the parliament for two consecutive days during this week. In these protests workers issued an ultimatum to cut electricity all over the country if the Power Ministry did not substantiate its promises, by holding a placard. And this is the announcement of the right conditions to move towards general strikes. The gathering of hundreds of workers during this week has given a different look to this region.
– The bus workers of Vahed Company went on strike and protest because of a delay in payment of wages in some areas of Tehran, and the authorities were forced to pay their wages in a state of panic; because they have the experience of the magnificent strike of 2006 by these workers.
– Firefighters, as another section of service workers who are in direct contact with people, restarted their protests and, in protest against difficult and dangerous work conditions, lack of rights, and lack of safety and security gathered in front of the parliament.
– Thousands of workers in the special area of South Pars and other Phases, in an area that because of sensitive position and relation to petroleum industry they call it “special area”, so that they can control it with harder laws and regulations, an area in which government has repeatedly banned protests and threatened workers, have stopped work and resisted against bullying of contract profiteers, and are demanding their rights.
The protest gathering of the youth seeking work in the village of Shahrooee, related to the city of Behbehan of Khoozistan province, was faced with the attack of repressive forces and as a result of this criminal attack a young man by the name of Morteza Farajnia lost his life. Also, a young man by the name of Ebrahim Shahrooee was injured and taken to hospital, and three other young people by the names of Afshin, Hamid, and Daryoosh were taken to prison. But, in reaction to this barbaric crime, 7000 people from this region gathered to commemorate Morteza Farajnia, and announced that they will not let this issue to be forgotten and demanded the trial of the murderer of Morteza, medical treatment of Ebrahim Sharooee with acceptable standards, and freedom of arrested youth.
– The protest letters against new attacks of the government under the title of Sixth Development Program, including the call of Free Union of Iranian Workers regarding to the abolishment of 33rd and 24th clauses of this program, which is basically a plan for slave labor of the youth under the age of 29 and is an attack on the life and livelihood of retired people. And, the workers of Sanye Fulad ( steel industries) have announced a campaign related to this matter and this campaign is ongoing.
These happenings along with daily protests of workers in different work centers such as protest of municipal workers in Broojerd, contract workers of Reja, and protest gatherings of Ardel workers during this week, show the turbulent situation of protest movement of workers and the whole of society in Iran.
International Workers Solidarity Committee – Iran
January 1, 2016
Translated by: Habib Biktas