Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Iran: Worker campaigners start sit-in outside the National Assembly

Workers behind a petition protesting low pay and deterioration of the labour law today started a sit-in outside the National Assembly in the capital Tehran, according to the Free Union of Iranian Workers. The petition, which has been circulating across the industries in Iran since this summer, has so far attracted over 30,000 signatures. Prior to the start of the sit-in at 10am this morning local time, the co-ordinators of the campaign submitted a letter and the last 10,000 batch of the collected signatures to the Labour Ministry. The campaigners have said that if their calls for pay rise and the scrapping of the amendment to the labour law and other welfare demands go unheeded, they will call on other workers to join the sit-in protest.

Workers in protest outside the Islamic Assembly, Tehran, 18 December 2012. Banners, from right to left:  * One day’s MP’s expenses = one month’s workers’ pay. * 30,000 workers protest pay freeze and anti-labour amendments to the labour law. * Poverty line = $400/month, workers’ pay = $300/month

The full text of the petition is reprinted below.

Text of the petition

To: Minister for Labour, Welfare and Social Affairs
Copy to: Members of the Islamic Assembly and the Office of the President

As we all know, since a year and a half ago with the introduction of phase 1 of the plan to eliminate subsidies, there has been a several-fold increase in the price of basic household goods. At the same time, the average pay of workers, compared to the years before the introduction of phase 1 of the plan, has even dropped. In addition, with the levying of, first, a 4%, and then a 5% value added tax on consumer goods, in effect 5% of the daily pay of workers, this being already below the poverty line, has been siphoned off to the Treasury. Meanwhile, delays in payment of wages are wreaking havoc. Despite this grim and unbearable situation, an extremely anti-labour amendment to the labour law, targeting workers’ job security and standard of living, has been drafted, which is soon to be put to the Assembly. The last two years’ average pay, which formed the basis for working out the pensions, has now been changed to the last five years’ average pay, leading to a sharp fall in pensions. The insurance cover for millions of construction workers, despite their having registered and paid for it, has still not come into effect. Contractor companies are busy ripping off workers, and job insecurity, redundancies and plant closures are at an all-time high.

There is no doubt that not only workers but any decent and fair-minded person would consider the imposition of such conditions on millions of workers and their families as unacceptable. Therefore, we the undersigned workers demand, as urgent steps towards putting an end to the current appalling situation, a rise in the minimum wage in line with the true rate of inflation based on the cost of living, at a decent level, of a four-member household, to be determined with the participation of the representatives of workers elected at their general assemblies. Additionally, we insist that the amendment to the labour law be scrapped and the calculation of pensions based on the average of the last five years’ pay be terminated. We demand the immediate implementation of the insurance scheme for construction workers, as well as of the government undertaking to end employment through third-party contractors and the signing, instead, of direct and permanent contracts with workers. We further demand the introduction of firm, legally binding mechanisms to ensure timely payment of wages and prosecution of employers who force workers to work without a contract of employment or with so-called blank contracts or who fail to pay the workers on time.

*   *   *

To all trade unions and labour sites

Please express solidarity by widely publicising the campaign and the news of the protest.

For further info, contact:
International Labour Solidarity Committee – Iran
Co-ordinator: Shahla Daneshfar (
Spokesperson: Bahram Soroush (
18 Dec 2012

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