The ITUC does not have an affiliate in Iran.
Freedom of association / Right to organise
No information available.
Restrictions on workers’ right to form and join organisations of their own choosing
- Single trade union system imposed by law and/or a system banning or limiting organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. at a certain level (enterprise, industry and/or sector, regional and/or territorial, national)
- The only authorised national workers’ organisation is the Workers’ House, which is an entity set up and backed by the authorities and employers. The 1990 Labour Law stipulates that an Islamic Labour Council (Shoraya Eslami) or a guild society can be established at any workplace, or alternatively a workers’ representative can be appointed (Art.131 Labour Law).
- Restrictions on workers’ right to join the trade union of their choosing imposed by law (i.e. obligation to join a trade union of a certain level e.g. enterprise, industry and/or sector, regional and /or territorial national)
- The Islamic Labour Councils are formed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs pursuant to Article 15 of the law for the Formation of Islamic Labour Councils (1985) which states that the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs is obliged to form the Islamic Labour Councils in units which have more than 35 permanent employees. Also, Article 1 of the By-Laws of the Islamic Labour Council’s Election (1985) explicitly makes reference to the Islamic Labour Councils formed by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Restrictions on trade unions’ right to organise their administration
- Restrictions on the right to freely draw up their constitutions and rules
- The Supreme Labour Council decides on trade union rules upon approval by the Council of Ministers (Art.131 Labour Law, 1990 (Note 5).
- Restrictions on the right to elect representatives and self-administer in full freedom
- Art.136 Labour Law, 1990: All official representatives of the workers of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the International Labour Organisation, the Boards of Inquiry, the Disputes Boards, the High Council of Social Security, the High Council for Occupational Safety and the like, shall, as the case may be, be elected by the High Centre of Islamic Labour Councils, the High Centre of Workers’ Guild Societies or by the assembly of workers’ representatives. Note 2: pending the establishment of the workers’ and employers’ organisations provided for in this Chapter, the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs shall select and appoint the said representatives to assemblies, councils, and high centres. Art.2 of Article 136 of the implementing regulations for the labour legislation, 1992: In the event that there may be no higher labour organisation the Minister of Labour and Social Affairs can advise on the election of representatives. Art.4 of Article 136 of the implementing regulations for the labour legislation, 1992: The candidates that are nominated by the higher union or the relevant workers’ assembly according to Article 1 of these regulations must satisfy the criteria below: citizen of the Islamic Republic of Iran, no previous criminal record, no experience with drugs, at least 5 years work experience, at least 30 years of age, and in possession of a secondary level education certificate. Art.5 of Article 136 of the implementing regulations for the labour legislation, 1992: Supervision of the selection process for candidates required for these regulations and the enforcement of the selection criteria for candidate in Article 4 is the responsibility of a committee comprising of two supervisors from the higher union or the relevant workers assembly mentioned in Article 1 of these regulations- and a member from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.
Categories of workers prohibited or limited from forming or joining a union, or from holding a union office
- Others categories
- Workers are defined as persons who work “in a capacity at the request of an employer in return for remuneration” (Art.2 Labour Law, 1990). This definition excludes informal workers from rights guaranteed in the Labour Law. Enterprises with less than ten workers may also be excluded “Small-scale enterprises with fewer than ten workers may, as circumstances require, be temporarily excluded from some of the provisions of this Code. Determination as to such exceptional cases shall be in conformity with regulations to be proposed by the Supreme Labour Council and approved by the Council of Ministers.” Workers employed in “family workplaces where work is performed exclusively by the employer, his wife and his blood relatives in the first degrees are not” protected by the Labour Law (Art. 188).
- Export processing zone export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. (EPZ export processing zone A special industrial area in a country where imported materials are processed before being re-exported. Designed to attract mostly foreign investors by offering incentives such as exemptions from certain trade barriers, taxes, business regulations, and/or labour laws. ) workers
- Workers in export processing zones are excluded from rights guaranteed under the Labour Law. Art. 5 Law of the Administration of Commercial and Industrial Free Zones stipulates that export processing zones “do not come under the jurisdiction of laws and regulations applying to government companies, nor that of government regulations, and they shall strictly and exclusively abide by the rules of this specific law and its articles, and shall administer their organisation accordingly.”
- Agricultural workers
- In the agricultural sector, activities related to growing and management of fruit trees, various plants, forests, pastures, parks, animal husbandry, raising and breeding of poultry and birds, the silkworm industry, breeding marine animals, beekeeping, cultivation, growing and harvesting and other agricultural activities are exempted from parts of this Code, at the proposal of the Supreme Labour Council, and subject to the approval of the Council of Ministers (Art.189 Labour Law, 1990).
Right to collective bargaining
Restrictions on the scope of application and legal effectiveness of concluded collective agreements
- Authorities’ approval of freely concluded collective agreements
- To enter into force, collective agreements must be approved by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which shall decide whether the agreement is in compliance with the law (Arts.140-141 Labour Law, 1990).
Right to strike
The anti-union repression in Iran has become increasingly harsh in the last few years. In May 2016, sixteen mineworkers of the Agh Dareh gold mine in the northwestern city of Tikaab were publicly flogged because they protested against the firing of 350 of their colleagues. Each miner received between 30 and 99 lashes after their employer filed a complaint against the collective action and the security services carried out the sentence.
Unfortunately, the practice of flogging protesting workers seems to be rather common in the country: another case occurred at the Bafgh iron mine for taking part in a protest back in 2014.
Several trade unionists were imprisoned in the month of October 2016 in Iran. Among others:
on 7 October, Mr. Esmail Abdi, the secretary general of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Union received confirmation of a six-year prison sentence for “assembling and colluding against national security”.
on 15 October, Mr. Jafar Azimzadeh, chairman of the Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers and Mr. Shapour Ehsanirad were sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment each for “establishing unions and carrying out propaganda against the government”.
Of the latter two activists, Mr. Azimzadeh had already been sentenced in 2014 to six years of prison and to a two-year ban on any media and cyberspace activity.
The Iranian free and independent union
A trade union that is not affiliated to a national union. Can also be a union that is not dominated by an employer.
See yellow union
movement fights for fundamental labour rights, despite repression, imprisonment, executions, and extrajudicial murder.
The legal framework existing in Iran enormously limits independent trade union activity within and outside enterprises. In fact, the Iranian free and independent trade union movements still fights for fundamental labour rights while facing habitual acts of repression, imprisonment, execution and extrajudicial murder. Despite the theoretical recognition
The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union.
of freedom of association
freedom of association
The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.
See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework , independent trade unions are not allowed to be created and operate within the employers’ premises where only the government sponsored union of Workers’ House of the Islamic Republic of Iran is allowed, in a socio-political context where workers that are suspected of being affiliated to independent unions are regularly dismissed and arrested. Any sort of collective action is repressed in violence and strikes are impeded by security forces, riot police and the militia. The government sponsors pro-regime Islamic Labour Councils, tripartite organizations containing worker and employer representatives and government appointees. Those Councils manage centrally the system of industrial relations industrial relations The individual and collective relations and dealings between workers and employers at the workplace, as well as the institutional interaction between unions, employers and also the government.
See social dialogue , practically operating as instruments of the state at the workplace: for such reasons they are hugely unpopular in the Iranian labour movement and violently opposed by independent trade unions.
Furthermore, the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – also known as Iranian nuclear deal - in July 2015 brought a new challenge for Iranian workers: in order to attract foreign capital, the labour market has been further liberalized, weakening labour law protections and guarantees.
Hatam Samadi from the Coordination Committee for Establishing Labour Organisations was arrested on 2 October by plainclothes officials and transferred to an unknown location. His arrest was reported to his family by the Sanandaj Intelligence Bureau. The committee was established to help Iranian workers fight for their rights.
Twenty workers at the Khatoonabad Copper Mine Complex in Kerman were arrested on 26 January 2016 for taking part in protests. The workers were arrested after they gathered to protest against unpaid wages and the dismissal of 130 contract workers, after a series of tests announced back in September 2015. On 13 February 2016, 23 of those arrested were released on bail.
Workers’ representative Mohammadali Mirzai was killed in an accident with a coal trailer during labour protests in Zarand, Kerman, after police shot tear gas into the crowd. On 16 June more than 350 workers at the Madanjoo Company in Zarand staged a protest by blocking the road, after spending three months in a state of limbo with no work.
Eyewitnesses reported that police threw tear gas into the crowd in order to disperse the workers, and as a coal trailer tried to force its way through the protesters, it ran over Mirzai, who had been temporarily blinded by the tear gas.
The workers were demanding that either the mine reopen or that they all be placed on employment insurance, which the company has been refusing to do, saying the workers were only on contract and, therefore, were not entitled to insurance
The Ministry of Health informed several candidates for the College of Nursing elections on 20 June 2015 that they were disqualified from standing. They were informed by letters and phone calls shortly before the deadline for declaring their candidacy, leaving them only one day to appeal the decision. No justification was given however. The House of Nurses association believed it was a result of a year of protests by nurses over inadequate pay and benefits.
Two months later four hospital nurses at Tehran’s Amir Alam Hospital were dismissed for taking part in labour protests. The termination order was issued by the Tehran Medical Sciences Board of Administrative Offences. Two of the fired nurses were members of Tehran’s Nursing Association. Nurses had been demanding the implementation of the Nursing Tariff Act, which had been approved eight years earlier but had not been implemented due to the lack of an adequate budget.
On 16 September Mahmoud Salehi, a founding member of the Bakery Workers’ Union in the city of Saqez (Kurdistan Province) who has been in and out of prison for the past 20 years, was sentenced to another nine years. He was out of prison on bail after being arrested on 28 April. He had lost a kidney during his previous imprisonment and it was feared that if he returned to prison he would die.
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh a member of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organisations, and a children’s rights advocate, was sentenced to another 7 years, 9 months and 15 days in addition to a previous sentences. Ebrahimzadeh had been in prison since June 2010 when he was sentenced to five years for “gathering and colluding with intent to harm state security”. He is also in very poor health.
In May 2015, Reza Shahabi, treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburban Bus Company (Vahed Syndicate), was prosecuted and sentenced to a further year in prison. He was already serving a five-year sentence for “propaganda against the state,” and “collusion with the intent to act against national security” for his role in the dispute between the union and the bus company.
He had been on medical leave from prison following a back operation in September 2014, but was forced to live outside of Tehran, away from his wife and children. Then in December 2014 Reza was summoned to Evin prison’s prosecutor’s office and interrogated about a protest by prisoners in Evin prison on 17 April 2014. He went on trial, the sentence was handed down in May 2015, and upheld in December 2015 by the Appeals Court.
Reza remained on medical leave, but was again summoned to report to the Intelligence Ministry on 7 February 2016. A new file had been opened against him, for inciting workers and disturbing public opinion and order, because he went to the Ministry of Labour. He had applied to the Ministry to pursue his request to return to work which had been denied despite the Iranian government’s report to the ILO International Labour Organization A tripartite United Nations (UN) agency established in 1919 to promote working and living conditions. The main international body charged with developing and overseeing international labour standards.
See tripartism, ITUC Guide to international trade union rights that he was free and had returned to work. He was also accused of going to City Hall for union related actions, of collecting union membership dues and distributing Vahed Syndicate’s newsletters.
Reza Shahabi was first arrested in 2005 for his participation in a bus drivers’ strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike , then sacked. He was arrested again in 2010 and was banned from union activities for five years. Since then he has spent 22 months in solitary confinement, has been beaten and has been on hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike several times.
Ali Nejati, retired and former President of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Company Workers’ Syndicate, was arrested on 15 September 2015. His residence was raided and his personal items, including his computer and notes, were confiscated by intelligence agents. Mr. Nejati had previously been incarcerated a number of times for his trade union activities. This time he was charged with “spreading propaganda against the system”. Family and friends were concerned as they did not know his whereabouts and he suffered from long term heart problems, relying on medication. He was released on bail on 18 October.
Shahrokh Zamani, a member of the Founding Board of the Syndicate of Paint Workers of Tehran and the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers Organisations, was found dead on 13 September 2015 in Gohardasht (Rajai Shahr) Prison in Karaj.
Shahrokh Zamani was originally arrested in June 2011 and sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for the crime of “spreading propaganda against the regime and forming socialist groups” and “endangering national security”. He was an active trade union leader, organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. workers and defending their rights.
Shahrokh’s cellmate found his body, with blood in his mouth and nose, when he tried to wake him up in the morning. The authorities claimed his death was from natural causes.
Mr. Zamani had no health problems before entering prison, according to his daughter, but became increasingly unwell as a result of his treatment in prison. One year into his sentence, Shahrokh Zamani wrote a letter to labour and human rights organisations, describing the physical and mental torture he was subjected to. He also expressed concerns that his and other political prisoners’ lives were in danger. He staged hunger strikes in protest at his ill-treatment. Despite suffering occasional loss of consciousness due to his ill-treatment and torture, he was denied medication and had to wait a year to be sent for an MRI scan. He was also denied visitors, and suffered from the knowledge that his family faced endless harassment from the government.
On 16 May 2015 security agents arrested the leader of a strike
The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike at Safa Pipe Rolling Mill in the city of Saveh. About 1000 workers had gone on strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike in early May demanding payment of 16 months unpaid insurance premiums and four months’ worth of late salaries. The employers had refused to pay even one month of their unpaid salary. They then proceeded to dismiss some of the strikers and by 23 May it was reported that at least ten workers had been fired for their role in the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike .
Tehran Security Police arrested two members of the Union of Workers of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, Ebrahim Maddadi and Davood Razavi, in their homes on 29 April 2015, and two other labour activists, Mahmoud Salehi and Osman Ismaili, were arrested in the city of Saqez in the Kurdistan Province on 28 April. On 25 April, plainclothes security agents in Sanandaj, Kurdistan, arrested the labour activist Reza Amjadi.
The arrests came against a background of mounting worker unrest over the impact on workers of international sanctions and economic mismanagement, with 70 per cent of workers below the official poverty line and 90 per cent of workers on temporary contracts. Over the preceding six months many workers had not been paid at all and it was calculated that between March 2014 and March 2015, there were at least 233 protests throughout the country, with strikes in the automotive industry, petrochemicals, mining, cement production, and other sectors, as well as the widespread teachers’ protests.
The response to such protest is to dismiss the workers, arrest the strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike leaders, and send them to prison. With May Day imminent the government feared further unrest, viewing any labour mobilisation as a national security threat.
For nine years, labour organisations have not been able to obtain legal permits from the authorities to stage May Day parades. Workers have only been allowed to mark International Workers Day in programmes organised by the government.
Esmail Abdi, General Secretary of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA-Tehran) was sentenced to six years in prison by branch 15 of the Islamic Revolutionary Court, presided over by the notorious Judge Salavati. The verdict was announced on 22 February 2016 , following a trial which began on 31 January. The charges against Esmail Abdi included “gathering and colluding with intent to harm public order” and “propaganda against the system”. The real reasons for his arrest and imprisonment, said his union, were his trade union activism as the general secretary of the ITTA (Tehran) and his leading role the teachers’ protests.
Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a spokesperson for the ITTA, Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli, both former board members of the ITTA (Tehran), were sentenced on 7 March 2016 by the Islamic Revolutionary court in Tehran. Each was sentenced to five years in prison by the trial court which is subject to review in the appeals court. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi was already serving a nine year prison sentence, which was ordered by Judge Salavati in a trial that last only a few minutes. Mohammad Reza Niknejad and Mehdi Bohlooli had been released on a three hundred million toman bail on 29 September 2015, following their arrest on 31 August.
Rasoul Bodaghi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), was sentenced to three extra years in prison in September, after having already served the five years in prison following his trial on 3 August 2010. He was originally sentenced to six years and banned for five years from social and cultural activities in 2010 for “propaganda against the state,” and “assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security.”
Milad Darvish, labour activist and filmmaker and a member of the “Environmental Foundation for the Sanctity of Life” (and honorary member of the Teachers’ Union) was arrested by the security forces on 22 August 2015 following a raid by intelligence force on his parents’ home where he was living. He had been previously detained on 1 March after a gathering of teachers in front of the Offices of Education in Tehran, and he spent twelve days of detention in ward 2A in Evin prison. He was released on a bail of 50 million Tomans.
Mohmmadreza Niknejad, an executive member of the Tehran Teachers’ Association, and Mehdi Bohlouli, an independent teacher activist, were arrested in their homes by security forces on 31 August 2015. Some of their belongings, including laptops, were confiscated in the course of the arrest. Another member of the Teachers’ Association, Ali Hossein Panahei, was arrested in the city of Sanandaj.
On the morning of 6 September 2015, Mr. Mahmoud Beheshti Langroodi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (Tehran), was arrested by security forces at his home. Security forces searched his home and confiscated some of his belongings. ITTA (Tehran) reported that the day before his arrest, Mr. Beheshti Langroodi was part of a meeting between ITTA and Mr. Nobakht, President Rouhani’s Deputy, to discuss the problems teachers in Iran continue to face.
Ramin Zandnia, a member of ITTA (Kurdistan), was arrested along with his wife by intelligence forces in the city of Saqez on 15 October.
Esmail Abdi, the head of the Iranian Teacher’s Association (ITA) had his passport confiscated on 21 June 2015 as he tried to travel to Armenia to obtain a travel visa to Canada. He had planned to attend Education International’s (EI) 7th World Congress in Ottawa in July. He was told he could not travel abroad, and to report to the prosecutor’s office. He went to the prosecutor’s office on 27 June and was arrested and imprisoned.
Mr. Abdi was then transferred to Section 2A of Evin Prison, run by the intelligence unit of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. He was accused of "organising organising The process of forming or joining a trade union, or inducing other workers to form or join one. and participating in illegal gatherings” and was denied access to his family and lawyers under the new Code of Criminal Procedures. The Code restricts access to legal counsel during the investigative phase for detainees charged with national security related crimes.
Mr. Abdi and the ITA had been active in the wave of teachers’ protests rallies and had been warned back in May by the regime’s Intelligence Ministry that if the protests continued, he would be arrested. In addition to calling for decent pay, the teachers were pressing for the right of teachers to participate in educational policy development, an end to the privatisation of schools, and the right to bargain collectively for job security . They also demanded the release of the hundreds of teachers being held in prison. In August 2015 a deputy in the regime’s Ministry of Education admitted to holding over 1,000 teachers in prison.
On 22 July, over 2,000 teachers held another rally in front of parliament to protest the continued detention of activists. More than 200 teachers were arrested but were released soon afterwards.
On 28 May 2015 the Iranian Teachers Association (ITA) protested that its executive member Ali Akbar Baghbani had been arrested for criticising the government’s reaction to teacher protests and demands. In a statement the association wrote that “oppressive government institutions” were trying to stifle teachers’ protests by arresting activists and enforcing severe restrictions. The ITA stipulated that the protests were rooted in “a serious dissatisfaction with the “discriminatory treatment of teachers compared to other government employees”. The teachers were demanding pay increases that would put their wages in line with those of other government employees. The response of the government was to discourage the protests and conduct numerous arrests.
Alireza Hashemi, head of the Iran Teachers Organization, was arrested on 19 April 2015 at his home and transferred to Evin Prison to serve a five-year sentence, originally handed to him in 2013, on charges of “assembly and collusion against national security” and “propaganda against the regime”. Earlier in April thousands of teachers took part in protests in 37 cities in Iran, against poverty wages and discrimination. Ahead of the protests the clerical regime had summoned a number of teachers and threatened them not to hold public protests in current situation in Iran which the authorities described as ‘critical’.
Unions are not permitted to distribute newsletters at their workplace. The internet is fully controlled and social media is filtered by the government. Jamil Mohammadi and Jaffar Azimzadeh who collected 40,000 signatures for a petition were sentenced for 3 and 6 years imprisonment.
On 19 August 2014, nine mine workers were arrested for participating in a strike
The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike action in Bafgh Iron Ore Mine in Yazd against the privatisation of the company, which was going to have an impact on the working conditions of the miners. The strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike ended with a violent intervention by riot police and the arrest and detention of the nine workers. Over 5,000 miners have downed tools in support of the detained workers who were arrested for taking part in a 40-day strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike at the mine in early 2014. Workers also demanded that 15 per cent of revenue from the mine should be invested in the Yazd region.
On 30 April 2014, authorities detained Messrs Jafar Azimzadeh and Jamil Mohammadi. On May Day Parvin Mohammadi and Shapour Ehsanirad were arrested. All four are officials of the Free Union of Iranian Workers. In 2013, they organised a mass petition protesting the worsening conditions of workers and were among unionists who tried to organise a May Day demonstration. Parvin Mohammadi and Shapour Ehsanirad were released, but the other two remain in ward 209 in Evin prison. A number of other unionists were summoned for interrogations and were warned not to go ahead with the May Day demonstrations in 2014 in a number of cities across the country including Kurdistan Province.
On May Day the authorities arrested 23 members of the Tehran bus workers’ union the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, including Ibrahim Madadi, before they were transferred to the notorious Evin Prison, where they were released a few hours after.
On 2 May arrests targeted several workers, trade unionists and labour activists as well as their families and associates who were attempting to assemble for a social gathering on the first weekend after 1 May.
Twelve other unionists and labour activists are currently in prison in Iran and many others are facing long-term prison sentences merely for exercising their fundamental right to associate and to organise.
Behnam Ebrahimzadeh of the Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Labour Unions (CPELU) and a child rights activist is serving five years in prison.
At least three members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations (CCHFWO), Messrs Yousef Ab-Kharabat, Mohammad Molanaei and Vahed Seyedeh, are serving prison terms in the Kurdistan province of Iran. Other members of the CCHFWO have been sentenced to prison terms from one to three and a half years and are appealing their sentences. They include Messrs Vafa Ghaderi, Ghaleb Hosseini Khaled Hosseini, Mohammad Karimi, Jamal Minashiri, Ghassem Mostafapour, Afshin Nadimi and Hadi Tanoumand.
At least five members of the Teachers’ Association of Iran (TAI) are now serving long-term prison sentences, namely Mahmood Bagheri (four and a half years), Rassoul Bodaghi (six years), Mohammad Davari (six years) and Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz (three years). Another member of the TAI, Abdolreza Ghabari, is serving a 15-year sentence after his death sentence for contacts with opposition groups abroad was commuted. Other leading TAI members, Messrs Ali-Akbar Baghani, Mahmoud Beheshti-Langaroudi, and Alireza Hashemi, have been sentenced to long-term imprisonment, which they have appealed.
Reza Shahabi has been in custody since June 2010 and is serving a six-year prison sentence. As a result of the brutal treatment he received when he was arrested in 2010, beatings and torture during interrogations and denial of medical treatment, Reza is suffering from a number of health problems. These include liver and kidney dysfunction, severe pain in his back, and a loss of sensation in his left leg which limits his ability to move, wash himself or even go to the toilet without help from others. In August 2012, Reza received an operation on his spine; however, contrary to doctors’ recommendations he was sent back to prison. A subsequent examination by a state medical examiner officially declared that the discs in three vertebrae of his spine were destroyed and that he should be immediately hospitalised and operated on. In October 2013, Reza was examined by specialists at the Imam Khomeini Hospital, who prescribed immediate physiotherapy and hydrotherapy outside prison. They emphasised that without this treatment, severe physical disorders including loss of sensation and disability in the left part of his body were probable.
He has now been transferred from Evin Prison in Tehran to Raja’i Shahr Prison in Karaj.
In January 2014, security forces arrested over 20 workers of the Chadormalu Mine in the central province of Yazd, including the head and the secretary of the labour union, who stopped work as part of a contract negotiation and dispute.
More than 3,000 workers have demanded a pay increase that is compatible with the inflation rate, as well as overtime pay. Bahram Hassaninejad, the Secretary of the union, was dismissed from his job during earlier protests over this issue in November 2013. The protest grew wider after Hassaninejad’s dismissal, and his return to work became another demand in addition to the pay increase and back pay back pay Wages or benefits due an employee for past employment. Often awarded when the employee has been unfairly dismissed. Not to be confused with retroactive pay (delayed payment for work previously done at a lower wage rate). .
On 26 January 2014, the Ardakan Labour Office Determination Committee confirmed Hassaninejad’s dismissal order, sparking new protests among the mine workers. On 29 January, security forces summoned and arrested 20 workers who they implied had been instrumental in launching the initial protests. The remaining workers continued their sit-in, and on 30 January, four additional workers from among those who were holding a sit-in at the factory site, Ramin Heydarjan, Behzad Talebpour, Mahmoud Dehghan, and Ahmad Nasirpour, were also arrested.
In June 2012, the Ministry of Industry, Mining, and Commerce sent a letter to trade unions and associations involved in the production and distribution of goods, banning them from giving interviews to the media about inflation rates.
Last April, more than 50 teachers and educational workers were in detention or were summoned and awaiting their court hearings related to “national security” or “union activities”. 46 journalists were imprisoned and are still in various jails across the country. The jail terms range from 6 months to 19 years and the charges range from “Insulting the supreme leader” to “Assembly and collusion with the intent to disrupt national security” or “Moharebeh (waging war against God), propagating against the regime”, and even “Anti-state charges related to work in documenting violations of human rights”.
Mohammad Tavakoli, Secretary of the Kermanshah Teachers’ Guild Association was arrested in February 2013 and recently sentenced to exile from his home province. Previous harsher cases include the earlier detention of teacher Abdolreza Ghanbari who was tortured, ill-treated and for a long time denied access to a lawyer. Mr. Ghanbari was tried unfairly by the Tehran Revolutionary Court in January 2010 and sentenced to death for ’Moharebeh’.
Shahrokh Zamani, a labour activist, was arrested on June 7, 2011, sentenced to 11 years in prison, and transferred to various prisons, and is now banned from face-to-face visitations and phone calls.
On 15 June, 60 members of the Coordinating Committee to Help Form Workers’ Organisations and a number of labour activists were arrested in Karaj. The detainees were transferred to Rajai Shahr prison where some were reportedly beaten and ill-treated.
On the eve of International Labour Day, seven major labour organisations in Iran issued a joint statement* demanding pay rises, an end to repression and cronyism, and the right to strike
The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.
See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike and form independent labour organisations. Over 200 workers in the city of Sanandaj attempted to organise a Labour Day meeting but they were faced with a huge police presence.
* The joint statement was signed by the following labour organisations: Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union, Free Trade Union of Iranian Workers, Re-launching Committee of the Trade Union of Painters and Decorators, Re-launching Committee of the Trade Union of Metal and Mechanical Workers, The Center for Defenders of Workers’ Rights in Iran, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company Workers’ Trade Union, Pursuit Committee for the Formation of Labour Organisations and Co-ordination Committee for the Formation of Labour Organisations.
In February, the Association of Iranian Journalists (AoIJ) stated that at least 34 journalists remain in prison, including two women Nazanin Khosravani and Hengameh Shahidi. In January reports emerged of the arrest of Dr. Fariborz Raisdana, a labour activist and a member of the Iranian writers’ association and the Centre of Defenders of Workers’ Rights. In February, security forces arrested two journalists, working for Shargh, the only remaining reformist newspaper. Also in February, the former head of the Iranian news agency was arrested while four more journalists were detained for questioning.
In March, Kaveh Ghassemi Kermanshahi, Iranian journalist member of the Central Council of the Human Rights Organisation of Kurdistan, also signatory to the “One Million Signatures Campaign”, was sentenced to four years in prison for allegedly “acting against national security” and “propaganda” while Abdolreza Tajik, journalist and human rights activist, was sentenced to six years in prison, for “membership in an illegal group”; and one year for “propaganda” and “publishing false reports”. Partly in response to their coverage of the demonstrations, Jay Deshmukh, the AFP deputy bureau chief in Tehran, was expelled from Iran in April and stripped of his press card along with ten other correspondents.
In December, the Committee to Protect Journalists published a worldwide prison census for journalists, declaring the Islamic Republic of Iran as the world’s worst jailer, with 42 journalists behind bars. However other estimates give figures of around 100 journalists imprisoned since 2009.
Since 1999, separate independent teacher associations have been formed, and in 2001 the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teacher Trade Associations (CCITTA) was founded. In 2007, teachers’ protests led to the harassment, detention and incarceration of labour activists, and many suffered pay cuts, were dismissed and forced to retire. The Interior Ministry has since issued a ban on all teachers’ associations. Even though the associations have never been formally dissolved by court, intelligence officers insist that the associations have been liquidated by the government and that the teachers should resign from them. Several teacher associations have been crushed by the intelligence service, but some, such as the associations in Tehran, Esfahan and Kermanshah, remain active. Often, union meetings are either dispersed or supervised by officers from the intelligence service. Discrimination against unionised students has also been reported.
The government relies on “security laws” to suppress any public expression of dissent. Many activists have been convicted of “propaganda against the state” and “jeopardising national security” by the Revolutionary Courts without any respect for international or Iranian fair-trial standards. While the government-backed Workers’ House or Islamic Councils consistently fail to address issues such as rights at work, privatisation, structural adjustments, low salaries and wage arrears, workers who try to organise independently are subjected to different forms of harassment, including violence, arrests, detention and potentially lengthy prison sentences. Security and intelligence forces are often present at workplaces to intimidate workers, and reports of trade unionists’ mistreatment by prison authorities are common.