SUPPORT IRANIAN SUGAR WORKERS:
Despite the repressive regime in place the workers of Iran continue to struggle and organize for their rights. This is often met with brutal repression on the part of the authorities. Here's an example, from the international union federation the IUF, and what you can do to help.
Stop Repression of Iranian Sugar Workers' Union!:
An independent workers union in southern Iran is challenging a legal case against them by the Revolutionary Court and they need your support, now.
In June last year, five thousand workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company in the Iranian city of Shush formed an independent trade union following a 46-day strike. Official organizations created by the government (Workers House and Islamic Labour Council) have for years utterly failed to protect the workers and their conditions. The Haft Tapeh workers have had to resort to repeated strike action to fight for their basic workplace rights, including regular payment of wages.
The strike last year began when thousands of workers from every department downed tools to protest two months without wages. A petition to the provincial labour department with thousands of signatures triggered mass arrests and repeated interventions by police, security forces and Revolutionary Guards. A mass demonstration on June 16 by workers and their families ending at an assembly which elected officers of an independent trade union. The Haft Tapeh union is now a member of the IUF.
Now the government is seeking to crush the union through potentially lengthy prison sentences for 5 elected leaders, charged with acting against "national security" in connection with last year's strike and the formation of the union. The five leaders are Ali Nejati, President, Feridoun Nikoufard, Vice President, Mohammed Heydari Mehr, Representative for Industry Affairs, Ghorban Alipour, Secretary, and Jalil Ahmadi, Member of the Board of Directors.
The 5 elected union leaders were summoned to the Revolutionary Court on December 20, 2008 and charged with acting against national security.The IUF and unions worldwide have condemned these charges as groundless and called on the government to immediately and unconditionally drop the charges. . Other independent union leaders in Iran, including Mansour Osanloo and Ebrahim Madadi of the Tehran Bus Union, have been imprisoned on the same charges..
The verdict was scheduled to be delivered on February 17 in a typically despotic and arbitrary manner by the court - the plaintiff did not even bother to appear before the judge nor present serious "evidence". However, the determination of the union leaders and their lawyer turned what was scheduled to have been a perfunctory sentencing into a five hour debate whose only conclusion was to continue the hearing. The next session is scheduled for February 22.
The union thanks all those who have written the government over the past few weeks. However, additional pressure is urgently needed to get the authorities to unconditionally drop all charges. CLICK HERE to send a message to the Iranian state and judicial authorities, calling on them to immediately and unconditionally drop all charges against the Haft Tapeh union leaders.
Pl;ease go to THIS LINK to send the following letter to the Iranian authorities.
To His Excellency Ayatollah Sayed 'Ali Khamenei - Leader
of the Islamic Republic
To Ayatollah Mahmoud Hashemi Shahroudi - Head of the
To the Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Islamic
Republic of Iran to the United Nations Institutions in Geneva
I am deeply concerned that five leaders of the
trade union of workers at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry
Company in Shush were charged on 20 December 2008 with acting against national
security as a result of their trade union activity. I believe that these charges
are groundless, and that the defendants are on trial for attempting to exercise
their basic human rights.. I am also shocked to learn that the plaintiff failed
to produce firm evidence to prove the case against the trade unionists and did
not even appear before the judge on 17 February when the court was in session.
It is my understanding that the court failed to deliver any verdict that day and
the next hearing is on 22 February.
I firmly believe that the five men -
namely Ali Nejati, Feridoun Nikoufard, Mohammed Heydari Mehr, Ghorban Alipour
and Jalil Ahmadi - are innocent and that all charges must be dropped immediately
I support the ongoing international
campaign by trade unions and human rights activists to promote and defend
workers’ rights in Iran and will closely follow developments in this