Let’s talk about unions in Iran

20.11.2014

Watch this IndustriALL Global Union video about the violations faced by workers in Iran and their struggle to create independent trade unions in a country where they are banned.

For IndustriALL Global Union it is now an important priority and duty to support these unions in their struggle to form democratic organizations to defend and advance trade union rights,

says Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL’s Assistant General Secretary.

Iran is an important country in the MENA region in the gas, oil and manufacturing sectors. However, there is little respect for fundamental human and trade union rights.

IndustriALL speaks to Jamshid Ahmadi an Iranian activist working with the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI). He helps to raise international awareness of UMMI’s activities and forge links with independent trade unions globally.

Trade unions are not recognized in Iran. The Iranian labour law currently forbids and prevents the formation of trade unions. In Iran only Islamic labour councils are accepted but they are not trade unions - they are tripartite organizations bringing together the Ministry of Labour, the employers and some selected workers based on their loyalties and religious affiliations to the government. As a result they are inappropriate and ill-equipped to deal with the demands and needs of Iranian workers,

says Jamshid.

The operations of unionists in Iran are very, very difficult. They are in effect paying with their liberty and their lives and their security for engaging with trade union activities,

he continues.

In Iran, arrests and detentions take place on a regular basis; workers are frequently arrested for supporting the right to organize workers and for building independent trade union structures. Torture is routinely used to extract confessions, and political prisoners are systematically denied medical care.

See ITUC survey of violations of trade union rights in Iran

In June, the ILO Committee on Freedom of Association upheld an ITUC/ITF complaint over the illegal repression of the bus drivers’ trade union headed by Mansour Osanloo who was finally released from jail. Trade union rights are severely limited and strikes are prohibited. Reports suggest over 70% of Iranian workers are employed on temporary contracts, with no job security.