Bahram Soroush speech at the ILO Conference 12 June 2006
I am delighted, ladies and gentlemen, for the opportunity that I have to address this conference about the situation of workers in Iran.
Unfortunately Iranian workers are not represented at this conference. So I am honoured to be bringing their voice to this conference.
As you may know, various sections of Iranian workers have written to the Director-General of the ILO, Mr Juan Somavia, to say that the so-called "workers' delegation" from Iran does not represent Iranian workers; that these people are members of the Iranian government's Islamic Labour Councils and Workers' House, which are state-sponsored bodies, charged with workers' surveillance and repression.
One of the delegates at this conference, namely Mr Ali Akbar Eivazi, personally led a vicious attack last year on the office of Tehran's bus workers' union, inflicting serious injuries on Mr Ossanlou, the president of that union, and many other unionists.
Mr Ossanlou is still in prison, after nearly six months, for trying to build a union.
In January, nearly 1,000 bus drivers and workers in Tehran were arrested and jailed for going on strike. In Iran you are arrested for trying to form labour organisations and for going on strike.
Just a couple of months ago, over 50 workers of Iran Khodro car-manufacturing company were fired for going on strike.
Over a million workers have been without pay, from several months to 2 or 3 years, due to non-payment of their wages. The textile workers of Kashan, Ghazvin and hundreds of other factories around the country have not been paid for months.
The minimum wage in Iran is around 1/3 of the official poverty line.
A few years ago, the security forces fired on the workers at Khatoon Abad copper mine, killing four.
The list is endless...
The Islamic Republic regime of Iran and its Islamic Labour Councils and Workers' House should be expelled from the ILO for their brutal repression of workers; for denying them internationally recognised rights to organise and strike and to collective bargaining; for denying them the basic right to a decent pay; for denying them a human existence...
Ladies and gentlemen! Honourable trade union representatives and workers' delegates!
Please use your rights and powers as members of the ILO to urge the immediate expulsion of the Iranian regime and its Islamic Councils and Workers' House from the ILO.
No ILO legitimacy should be given to these persecutors of workers. Genuine representatives of Iranian workers should be allowed to take part at ILO conferences.
Iran and its Islamic Councils out of ILO!
Long live international labour solidarity!