Monday, June 5, 2023

Open Letter to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) on the occasion of the 111th annual meeting of the International Labor Organization (ILO)


The ITUC participates in the annual meeting of the ILO. 


This year coincides with the 40th anniversary of the ILO's support for the Iranian labour movement, which was registered in 1983 (1362) under case number 1187. Comparing reports of strikes and repression, imprisonments, and mass executions during that bloody decade with 2022-2023 (1402), clearly protests have become more extensive and the economic and social conditions of Iranian workers has fallen to lower levels.


In addition to repression, conditions include the prohibition of the right to organize and strike, imprisonment and execution, more than four million child labourers and several million pensioners living below the poverty line, sexual and ethnic discrimination are rampant, and workers in various economic sectors work under the lowest safety conditions. Minimum wage equates to absolute hunger and dire poverty. Due to the lack of economic policies, many economic institutions have become insolvent. Widespread unemployment plagues Iranian workers, and 96% of workers are employed on temporary contracts and in informal positions. Workers in the free enterprise zones of commerce and energy live under slave-like conditions.


On October 8, 2022 the International Trade Union Confederation, the Trade Union Consultative Committee, and the Global Union Federations (GUFs) announced in a statement: "The entire international trade union movement stand in solidarity and respect with the incredibly brave people who are standing up against the brutal oppression by the leaders of the Iranian regime." The resistance led by women and girls who, despite being at great risk, wish to end misogyny and subjugation of their basic rights to dignity by the government.


On 21 November 2022, at the ITUC World Congress, the ITUC condemned the systematic violation of the fundamental rights of the Iranian people, including the right to organize, and demanded the release of imprisoned labour and trade union activists, an end to violence against women and girls, and the ratification and implementation by the Iranian government of the ILO conventions. They also demanded that the Islamic Republic recognize independent trade unions in Iran.


On May 26, 2023, the European Trade Union Confederation issued a resolution titled The Women, Life, Freedom Movement, in which the regime's tactics to brutally suppress the labor movement, suppress the media, strikes and protests, and arrest, torture, rape and the execution of prisoners, promotion and the continued revolutionary conditions of recent months are condemned.


Many labour and civil society organizations around the world issued similar statements of support for Iran’s worker and social movements. Unfortunately, however, by choosing the Iranian representative as the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Council Social Forum, the UN stands in direct opposition to the Iranian people, and has caused increasing mistrust by the Iranian people of global organizations.


Under the prevailing conditions for Iranian workers, they wish for the independent global workers organizations to continue extensive and powerful support for the Iranian labour struggles, and to present a plan to propel these struggles. Today, we need a united strategy to drive the political and economic struggles in Iran such that widespread participation of global workers and social movements can help Iranian workers regain their lost rights. We affirmed this last February in our Declaration of Minimum Demands by twenty labour and civil society organizations and insist on its implementation. We request support to implement the declaration.


To that end, we demand:


1- Similar to Complaint No. 2807 (2010) regarding the presence of so-called "Iranian labour representatives" in the International Labour Organization, we request that the credentials of the Iranian labour delegation to participate in the ILO Congress be revoked. Their participation should be forbidden as there is no real voice of  independent trade unions of Iranian workers. Since Seyed Mohammad Yarahmadian, is the "representative and head of the regime's labour delegation to the International Labour Organization", while also being the handpicked representative of the Supreme Council of workers representatives of the armed forces, he must be barred from representing the workers of Iran.


2- As with previous years, call out the names of global economic institutions that participate in violating the rights of Iranian workers through economic cooperation with the Iranian government. Many Western economic and financial institutions have investments in Iran must be used to force the Iranian regime to end the repression and recognize workers rights.


We ask the international independent labour organizations to identify and name institutions and individuals who have played a role in driving Iran's economy to catastrophic conditions or in oppressing the people - such as military institutions - which have investments in foreign countries today. Hold accountable the institutions that play a role in communication technology used to oppress Iranians. It is the right of wage earners to have the opportunity for independent communication.


3- Support the prisoners in medieval prisons and dungeons who protested for their basic natural rights and demand the unconditional and immediate release of workers, teachers, students, journalists, gender equality activists, etc.


The government of Iran should not be allowed to avoid responding to the ILO conventions it has signed. Today, the ILO Committee of Experts work regarding the situation of the prisons and prisoners is an urgent issue. The deplorable conditions in the prisons continue to deteriorate, as mass arrests, unfounded extended sentences, and mass executions are increasing every day.


We are certain that the day will arrive when workers will obtain their basic rights and the right to organize.


June 2023

Centre for Labour Rights Defenders

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