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Iran continues to imprison trade unionists

26 October, 2016As IndustriALL welcomes its first affiliated trade union from Iran, the country’s government continues to imprison labour leaders for their activities.

The Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI) was affiliated to IndustriALL Global Union at the Executive Committee in October 2016.

Notwithstanding, October was a dark month for trade unions in Iran.

On 7 October, Esmail Abdi, general secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, received a confirmation of a six-year prison sentence for  “assembling and colluding against national security".

15 October, two labour activists, Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the free union of the Iranian workers, and Shapour Ehsanirad, were sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment each for “establishing unions and propaganda against the regime”.

Azimzadeh had already received a six-year prison sentence in 2014, together with a two-year ban on any media and cyberspace activities.

UMMI are campaigning for the release of all three union leaders and for their sentences to be quashed.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says that the persecution of trade unions must end immediately:

IndustriALL strongly condemns the continuous imprisonment of trade union leaders and support free and democratic trade unions in Iran.

While economic sanctions are lifted and there is a flow of international investment in the country, the Iranian government must respect fundamental human and trade union rights without any delay. In this context, we urge the government of Iran to ratify ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize, and ILO Convention 98 on the Right to Organize and Collective Bargaining.