Sunday, February 05, 2006

Support the Tehran Bus Workers

According to the independent interviews with the union's activists and other sources from Tehran, over 700 members of the Syndicate of the Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company and a number of supporters are still in custody following the brutal use of police and the company's security forces on January 28th.

According to an interview with Mr. Yaghoob Salimi, an alternate board member of the Syndicate, the Evin prison was full with jailed workers. Mr. Salimi himself was not arrested during the strike but the security forces raided his home and arrested three women and five children including his wife and his 12 and 2 years old daughters. The release of his wife and children was conditional upon Mr. Salimi turning himself to the police, which took place on the same day. In an enormously emotional interview, Mr. Salimi's daughter revealed that her mother and other two women were badly beaten by the security forces, the 12 year-year-old was pepper-sprayed in the eyes and her two year old sister was terribly beaten in such a way that her face got badly bruised.

The government brought the military personnel and buses to the City in addition to thousands of security and armed forces as well plain cloth officers that were dispatched to suppress the strike. According to a statement by the Syndicate, many drivers were beaten, threatened and forced to drive buses. According to other sources, about 30 arrested workers have been seriously injured and required immediate medical attention and some had to be transferred from prison to the hospital. The jailed workers in Evin prison have decided to go on hunger strike and the union is deciding about its next move. As the Company's CEO had vowed to fire all striking workers, there are reports that the company and the government authorities are forcing some workers to sign a "penitent statement" in order to be able to return to work.

The union has issued a new plea for support urging their colleagues in Iran and the international labour movements to condemn the attack on workers and support their demands. These fellow workers have been simultaneously fighting back against all these attacks on numerous fronts but, having no rights to organize freely or to strike, their protests and walkouts have been brutally repressed by security and intelligent forces. This heroic and tragic event once again demonstrated that the Iranian labour movement not only needs its own free and strong organizations but it also requires powerful international labour solidarity and support to fight back against these violent offensives by the employers and the oppressive government.

There is no doubt that the Islamic Republic of Iran is in total violation of the most fundamental workers', human and children's rights. This government must be hold accountable for its repressive actions. The International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran is urging all concerned organizations around the world particularly the world's labour movements to intensify their pressure on the Iranian government for the following urgent demands.

1. The immediate and unconditional release of all arrested workers including members of the board of directors of the Syndicate and its president Mr. Mansoor Osanloo.

2. All acts of violence against workers, women and children must be condemned. Children must be properly compensated and those violated children's rights must be prosecuted.

3. The immediate removal of the security and intelligent forces from the company's workstations and bus depots, as well as putting an end to the violent treatment of workers in labour disputes.

4. The recognition of the Syndicate as the genuine representative of workers.

5. The recognition of the right to negotiate collectively and the right to strike.

6. The removal of the government-sponsored Workers House and the Islamic Labour Council from the company's workplaces since they merely are agents of the employer and the government and have no legitimacy amongst workers. Furthermore, the Workers' House and Islamic Labour Councils must be expelled from all international labour bodies (see below for background information).

7. The expulsion or suspension of the Islamic Republic of Iran from the International Labour Organization due to its total violation of workers' fundamental rights as stipulated by the international labour conventions and the international human rights standards.

8. The Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkat-e Vahed) and Tehran's Mayor must be denounced strongly by the world's labour and human right's communities as one of the most repressive employers and hold liable accordingly. The company must be pressured to reinstate all workers, pay workers their due amount with appropriate and fair compensation and recognize the union. The company must be warned not to take any retaliatory actions against workers.

9. A fact-finding international labour delegation should be dispatched to Iran to investigate the violation of workers and human rights and publicly report their finding for appropriate actions.

For more information, please contact

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran

Your protest letters can be sent to the following addresses:

Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadjinejad,
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran
Fax: + 98-21-6648.06.65 or: + 98 21 649 5880 &

Ambassador Mohammad Reza Alborzi, Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic
of Iran to the United Nations Institutions in Geneva, Chemin du
Petit-Saconnex 28, 1209 Geneva, Switzerland, Fax: +41 22 733 02 03, E-mail:



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