From Workers' Left Unity-Iran
Over the last few weeks, the demonstrations and sit-ins organised by textile workers in Behshahr in northern Iran have come to symbolise the long struggle of the Iranian workers for the right to a decent wage, the right to work.
Having operated for more than 60 years, Behshahr Chit Sazi is one of the oldest textile factories of Iran, once employing more than 3,000 workers. However, following years of mismanagement and, more recently, privatisation, this factory, like most other textile plants in Iran, has sacked the majority of its workforce.
Those still employed have not been paid for more than two years. The promises of the provincial and national authorities have failed to materialise and workers in this factory have been stepping up their protests since early spring.
In the last few years, almost every day (and at times more than once a day) workers in Iranian towns and cities have protested against non-payment of wages, unemployment, job insecurity and poverty pay. In doing so they have not only raised their voice against the reactionary dictatorship which is the Islamic Republic, but sought to expose the economic devastation created by capitalism in Iran.
For millions of Iranian workers, women and youth, Islamic fundamentalism in power has brought nothing but poverty, repression and the daily interference of religion in their private lives. No wonder that for most Iranians, both the 'reformist' and 'conservative' factions of the regime have become synonymous with corruption, greed and clerics gathering huge fortunes.
In Iran we call them 'Mercedes mullahs', accumulating astronomic wealth at the expense of the masses.
As students' and workers' protests enter a crucial stage we remind you that Iranian workers face a particularly difficult time. Prices are rising dramatically, the purchasing power of all wage earners has fallen considerably and yet the wages of millions of workers has not even been paid for the last few months!
Mass job losses continue and huge numbers of workers have joined the ranks of the unemployed, with no insurance or unemployment benefit.
Agricultural workers, seasonal workers, women working from home, foreign workers and child workers are deprived of even the lacklustre benefits provided by 'Islamic' labour legislation.
The clerical regime has passed a law, mainly designed to protect its allies in the bazaar, exempting workshops of 10 employees or less from all labour legislation, leaving the majority of Iranian workers at the 'mercy' of employers.
The capitalist class and the Islamic regime are working hand-in-hand to force Iranian workers to accept slave labour wages, reducing the producers of wealth and society's fortunes to beggars.
In order to achieve this, they have deprived the Iranian working class of any organisation: trade unions, independent organisations, the right to strike, the right to organise.
'Islamic' capitalists and their state in Iran have always used religion, law, force to disperse workers, to stop them organising, to control them via state sponsored, yellow unions, to attack and suppress their activity so that they can exploit them further.
Workers throughout Iran have taken every opportunity to show their mistrust of yellow unions and Islamic 'workers' councils'. They have transformed illegal demonstrations into major gatherings to protest against the anti-working class regime.
Iran's workers demand unemployment benefit for all unemployed worker and an end to the exploitation of child workers! They oppose lower wages for women workers and foreign workers and defend equal pay for equal work!
At a time when Iranian workers are organising themselves in defence of the right to live, the right to a decent wage, the right to strike, the right to protest, we hope their allies abroad, especially in the workers', anti-capitalist and anti-war movements will join us in supporting them.
We call on the international labour movement to demonstrate its solidarity with Iranian workers against both US aggression in the region and the reactionary regime of the Islamic Republic.
Workers' Left Unity-Iran will be organising a support fund for the textile workers in Behshahr.
Workers' Left Unity-Iran