Iran: The elections and workers organisations

This is a statement by the Tehran bus workers whose union has been subject to continuous oppression since it was relaunched in 2005.

The Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union is purely a trade and workers’ organisation. This trade union was formed in 2005 based on the consciousness of the workers and the broad support and involvement of workers, and  despite its ups and downs and many problems, has continued its activity as before until today.

The Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union does not support any candidate in the tenth presidential election and does not view supporting any candidate as within the scope of the activities of independent workers’ organisations. With the absence of freedom [of activity] for parties, naturally our organisation is also deprived of a social association that would protect it. While the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union views political intervention and activity as the absolute right of every single person in society, it believes that if the presidential candidates present workers’ manifestoes and give practical guarantees about their electoral slogans, workers throughout Iran can either participate or not participate in the election.

But the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union, as a workers’ association, sees it as its duty to ask all candidates [some questions], so that in case there is a logical answer, workers can make a decision about these [replies]. But unfortunately until now the presidential candidates have not expressed any views about workers, the unemployed and their demands in the press, at conferences, in press conferences or during provincial trips.

Today, for workers and their families, encouragement about participation in the election is one of the most meaningless of existing debates, because during the past three decades the workers have experienced all the presidents from the time of the [Iran-Iraq] war and the [post-war] reconstruction and reform, and also the affection-cultivating president.

We want all our workmates and people of our class, that if there is a discussion about the election in their place of work or study, home or neighbourhood, to not forget to ask themselves and others what is the programme of the presidential pretenders for workers?

1- What is the clear position of the candidates of the tenth presidential election on the formation of independent workers’ organisations without the interference of the government and employers?

2- How do you justify the suppression of independent workers’ organisations like the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union?

3- Considering the accumulated demands of workers and that the poverty line announced for this year is 850,000 tomans [$874], but on the other hand the monthly wage has been set at 263,000 tomans [$270], will you accept the demand of workers’ organisations that the minimum wage should be 1 million tomans [$1021]? This was what the signatures of factory workers throughout the country have proclaimed.

4- To announce their opinion on international conventions on labour rights, children’s rights, women’s and human rights, and to say how they will adhere to them?

5- To say what their opinion and programme is on job security, job creation, housing and unemployment insurance for people over 18 years old, medical insurance for everyone and scrapping temporary contracts that are the cause of hardship and poverty for working class families?

During these past years the workers have been told to make sacrifices and to accept their hardship and their lack of rights. While the workers can neither go to work with security or hope, nor to their homes for rest, thousands of plain-clothes and security force [officers] – forces that performs no productive work and are used everywhere and for any deed that is necessary, with any level of violence and use of force – are kept to deprive and detain workers from a free life. Yet [the candidates] refuse to give up one day to talking about the workers’ demands and needs.

These are not issues specific to the time of the election. These problems depend on the co-operation of all toilers who see this dam in front of them. We must strive to go past this dam and reach a society where the solving of social problems is not handed over to the president and parliament only. General prosperity depends on general co-operation and we must not let others make decisions for us. We must take the initiative ourselves.

Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Trade Union
May 2009

Translated by Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network