Wednesday, January 10, 2018

ACTU – Statement on Protests in Iran

9 January 2018

Statement from the ACTU:

Beginning on the 28th of December protesters took to the streets in Mashhad, Iran's second-largest city. Demonstrations have quickly spread to other cities as Iranians protest the rising cost of living amid spiraling inflation and ongoing state repression. The authorities have reacted brutally, leading to scores of deaths and hundreds of arrests. Many of those detained have been accused of crimes against the state and “enmity against God”, a crime that carries the death penalty. 

The non-payment of wages is a major cause of the demonstrations, such as at the Haft Tapeh sugar production complex. Here workers have gone for over 4 months without pay following the privatisation of the facility. Those who attempt to engage in independent trade union activity have suffered severe repression, including torture and imprisonment on false charges such as the cases of Reza Shahabi, Esmail Abdi, Ebrahim Madadi.

Many Iranians believed that following the lifting of nuclear sanctions living standards would improve, but instead workers have seen their wages suppressed and conditions worsening. Since the signing of the nuclear deal, the economy has liberalised and foreign investment has begun to enter the country. To attract greater foreign investment the government is pushing rapid privatisation and lowering wages. This has benefited the already wealthy elite, but not working people. The unemployment rate has risen to 12.4 per cent, and youth unemployment, in a country where half the population is younger than 30, is at 40 per cent.

These brave protesters are fighting intolerable conditions, and demanding a life free from oppression and poverty. The global community must stand with them and ensure that the Government of Iran stops repressing trade union activity, allows freedom of association and collective bargaining, prevents companies from stealing wages and protects workers from aggressive privatisation.

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