An open letter to trade unions and workers organisations – The Organising Commlittee for the June 7th protest action in Geneva

An open letter to trade unions and workers’ organisations 

Sponsoring a rally at ILO’s 2024 annual conference in Geneva in solidarity with workers’ movement in Iran

In the past 45 years, the Islamic regime of Iran has waged a relentless and all-encompassing war against the working class in economic, political, social and cultural spheres of life. The minimum wage is manifold under the poverty line and even regular payment of wages is one of the workers’ demands. Workers have to take up to three precarious jobs to secure minimum shelter and sustenance for their families. The Iranian government breaks its own labour laws fiercely on a daily basis and does not have the slightest respect for the ILO conventions and persecution of workers is a daily routine in Iran. In spite of experiencing ferocious repression and denial of basic labour and human rights, the working class in Iran have shown a remarkable resilience and fought for their rights in a strikingly unequal battle.

 Every year, hundreds of workers and labour activists in Iran are threatened, fired, arrested, imprisoned, tortured by the Islamic Republic of Iran for exercising their basic labour rights. Currently, a considerable number of labour activists are behind bars. A few independent labour organisations that have partially survived the government’s sustained onslaught and suppression are under constant and colossal pressure, their activities are severely restricted, and many of the founders and members are either imprisoned or live in constant fear of persecution and long periods of incarceration without trials.

 As a member of the International Labour Organization (ILO), the Islamic Republic of Iran is required to observe the core conventions of the ILO, including freedom of associations and collective bargaining. However, the severe violation of these very conventions has been the routine policy and practice of the Iranian regime. Despite having an atrocious and violent anti-worker record in the last 45 years, the Iranian regime is given free rein to send its government-affiliated proxies such as the “Supreme Center of Islamic Labour Councils” to ILO’s annual conferences instead of independent and credible representatives of workers’ organisations, and there is no sign of ILO scrutiny to ascertain the independent status of workers’ representatives. It is more deplorable to note that these proxies are even promoted to the membership of board of directors and other committees. The Islamic Republic of Iran also selects its official and employers’ representatives and effectively, all representatives from Iran are the Islamic government’s agents.

For many years, the labour organisations and activists in Iran have insisted that the “Iranian Labour Delegation” is not Iranian workers’ representative and urged ILO’s respective bodies to step in and stop this shameful travesty, but they have only faced a thick wall of silence. In 2005, following a complaint made against the government of Iran regarding the violation of workers’ rights, a case was opened at ILO. Since then, every year more complaints have been compiled and added to the original case, but after nearly 20 years, ILO has not taken any meaningful and effective step to respond to ever-increasing complaints. This means that for decades, the authentic representatives of Iranian workers have not had their rightful seat at ILO conferences.

 ILO’s 112th conference will be held in Geneva between 3rd and 14th June 2024. On 7th June, we will be holding a rally there to publicly oppose the participation of the agents of the Iranian regime as so-called ‘Iranian labour delegates’ and demand the unconditional release of imprisoned labour activists and all political prisoners in Iran and assert the Iranian workers’ rights to freedom of associations and collective bargaining.

We, along with labour organisations and imprisoned workers in Iran, urge labour organisations worldwide to stand in solidarity with the authentic representatives of workers, support their struggles in Iran and condemn their arbitrary imprisonment and heavy sentences for want of basic labour rights which are taken for granted in many parts of the world. We urge you to support and sponsor our rally. You can do so by a) adding the name of your organisation as a sponsor, b) sending your message of support to us to be read at the rally, c) nominating your representative to speak briefly at our rally on 7th June 2024. We would be delighted if you decide to choose more than one option.

In solidarity

 The Organising Committee for the June 7th Protest Action in Geneva

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