Happy New Year to the Supporters of Iranian Labor Movement Worldwide!
The staff of Iran Labor Report would like to wish our readers and all the friends of Iran labor movement a Happy New Year where ever they are.
Overall, 2012 was a bitter-sweet year full of hard-won battles and setbacks. A propitious drop in living standards caused in part by sanctions and the political infighting at the top of the political pyramid wreaked havoc on the lives of average workers. Last year saw thousands of economic units drastically cutting down on production or closing shop entirely. The end result was massive layoffs, wage cuts and an aggressive attack on workers’ rights across the board– best exemplified in the new version of the labor law which rewrites employer-employee relations in favor of the former.
As years past, an obscenely large number of workers were injured at work or lost their lives on account of utterly preventable accidents. Several children from poor working families perished in fire at school or were killed in traffic accidents.
On the upside, Mahshar petrochemical workers won a huge victory for the working class of Iran. After months of tenacious struggle they forced the state to recognize the rights of temporary-contract workers and pay back wages to several thousand workers.
The autumn months of 2012 saw a new wave of petition campaign in the form of signature collection by thousands and thousands of workers addressing the authorities directly about their plight. They invariably protested the deteriorating living conditions but they also hinted at a new phenomenon: collective nation-wide campaigns across different sectors and industries.
On the organized labor front, things were also of a more mixed result. Labor activists faced another uninterrupted year of naked repression and harassment. Sattar Beheshti was murdered in custody; Reza Shahabi had to go on hunger strike to protest his continued imprisonment and mistreatment; and several meetings were raided with their activists hauled to Ministry of Intelligence prisons.
2013 promises to be no less eventful. The economic crisis is driving hundreds of thousands of workers towards direct action and activism. Already, several dormant labor groups are re-organizing and plans are afoot for launching new groups. Iranian labor movement is showing signs of militancy and renewal.
Barring unforeseen developments like an actual shooting war between Iranian and Israeli fundamentalists, with sanctions and the domestic political strife only slated to get more severe in the coming months (the presidential election is set for the following June) we should expect new interesting developments on several labor fronts.
Under these circumstances, international solidarity with Iranian workers would be absolutely essential for rebuilding the labor movement. Only a strong and well-organized labor movement can ensure a smooth transition to a democratic, secular, nuclear-free Iran.
Peace and friendship for all!