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Solidarity with Tehran bus workers
FOURTEEN LEADERS of Tehran's transport workers' union were arrested on 22 December, after staging a 'no-ticket' action against Sherkate Vahed, a state owned bus company in Iran, to demand higher wages.
By an Iranian socialist
Bus workers protested by striking on 25 December. Before the arrest, members of the Islamic militia, Ansar Hezbollah, used violence to try to intimidate the workers. But the protest was solid and most of those arrested were released, but not the union's leadership who face heavy jail sentences for organising the protests.
This strike action was the culmination of collective actions. In October, drivers refused to collect tickets from passengers in protest at their working conditions and low wages which have been frozen for four years while prices soared in Tehran. Transport workers threatened indefinite strike action if their leadership is not released.
The heavy repression by President Ahmadinejad's government demonstrates his regime's increasing weakness. Iran's Islamic clerics understand that an independent trade union movement could be a major force for social change.
This strike action shows a determination amongst Iran's working class to improve their living standards when oil revenues have massively increased and, if necessary, to challenge the Ahmadinejad regime.
While most of those arrested have now been released, bus workers' leader Mansour Osanlou remains in jail and the union's bank account has been frozen. At a mass meeting on 2 January, thousands of Tehran Bus Company workers called for Mansour Osanlou's immediate release.
Internationally trade unionists and socialists are asked to send resolutions demanding:
- Immediate release of the union leader Mansour Osanlou.
- Drop all charges against members of Tehran transport workers' union.
- End attacks on the union and all other genuine trade unions in Iran.
- Agree to workers' demands for increased pay and better working conditions.
Emails of protest should be sent to the Iranian President at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Send letters of protest to Iranian embassies or to: The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations 622 Third Ave. New York, NY 10017. Please send copies to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
In The Socialist 12 January 2006: