بنام جان آفرین

Network of Iranian Labor Unions

What is the Network of Iranian Labor Unions?

NILU is an independent labor organization involved in several unionization drives in Iran. In addition, we are dedicated to providing assistance to Iran’s fledging trade union movement with expertise, resources, information, and international trade union support. This is done through our website.

We are a group of labor activists who believe that the right of workers to choose an organization of their own choice is an inalienable right, their human right.

Trade unionism is a tradition that is more than a century old in Iran. Yet, unfortunately the government refuses to recognize independent trade unions in Iran. It arrests and persecutes labor activists with impunity. It also threatens to fire those who wish to join unions.

The economic crisis of recent years has hit the workers and their families exceptionally hard. Stagnant wages and mass unemployment are providing the government the opportunity it has sought to start a frontal assault on workers’ rights. This involves changing the Labor Code, downsizing, privatization, and wage cutbacks. Ironically, all this is creating the conditions ripe for organizing the vast unorganized labor force. That’s why the government is dead set against all forms of organizing. Our work in Iran is done under extremely difficult conditions since the government responds very harshly to labor activism of any kind.

What does NILU do in Iran?

Our activities include the following:

  • Organizing the unorganized: several of our members are engaged in organizing drives at their work places.
  • Information-sharing: workers who participate in strikes or work-stoppages often feel isolated and vulnerable. We try to spread the news about their struggle to other workers inside and outside Iran through our website. This gives them strength and hope.
  • Coordination: by linking up various workforces within an enterprise or across different industries in Iran , we hope to ease the pressure on workers who are involved in strikes, unionization drives and other forms of direct action. For example, in October 2008, many workers at Iran Khodro Automotive complex said they would refuse to report to work if the Haft Tapeh workers’ syndicate was to be suppressed.
  • Legal Issues: workers are often poorly informed of their rights under the present penal and legal codes as well as international agreements which the government has signed. We provide them with some of the most pertinent documents they might need. We have already translated and published two lengthy legal documents from the International Labor Organization on workers’ rights. More is being prepared.
  • News and Analysis: workers desperately need to learn about international labor practices and struggles. Above all, they need hard-hitting analysis of how other workers defend their own interests. We have been translating news and analysis from across the globe for this purpose.
  • Health and Safety Issues: workers must know about health and safety issues. There are many primary source documents in government websites that we make available to workers.
  • Material and Financial Support: workers on strike are often in dire need of help. Despite our limited resources, we try the best we can, to assist them and their families while the strike is going on. The same applies to labor activists who have been dismissed from their work.
  • International Contacts: NILU is very much aware of the need for international labor support. We are trying to establish contacts between Iranian labor activists and foreign trade unionists.


The Time to Act is Now!

The Iranian government is desperate to join the WTO. But to do so, it first has to respect international labor standards. In addition, the government has started a massive campaign of privatization, downsizing and axing of state subsidies to enterprises.

We believe these factors have given us and our international backers in the global trade union movement a rare window of opportunity for exerting pressure on this government to legalize independent unions and labor syndicates.