ICFTU OnLine – February 2, 2006

Brussels, 2 February 2006 (ICFTU OnLine): Iranian authorities have again targeted trade unionists at Sherkate Vahed, Teheran’s bus company, in the latest wave of brutal repression. The ICFTU, in a letter to the country’s authorities, strongly condemned the new arrests of several hundred trade unionists and their families, including eight executive members of the Sherkate Vahed union. The union’s leader, Mansour Osanloo, has been in prison since 22 December.

On 24 January, the Iranian union called for a strike on the 28th, in protest at the continued detention of Osanloo and in support of a collective bargaining agreement at the bus company. A dramatic chain of events was to follow. On 25 January, the members of the union’s executive bureau met with the bus company’s managers to inform them of their intentions despite the fact that eight of them had been summonsed to appear before the revolutionary court on the 26th. They have not been seen since their court appearance. According to the information available to us, they are thought to be in detention at Evin prison, where Mansour Osanloo has been held, in a high security area, since 22 December.

During the strike that nonetheless went ahead on 28 January, hundreds of trade unionists and their families were arrested. Many continue to work under great pressure, others have been severely beaten. The government is determined not to let the press cover this news. According to diplomatic sources in Teheran, over 500 trade unionists are thought to be currently in prison. In a letter addressed to President Mahmoud Ahmadjinejad, the ICFTU firmly opposed this surge in repression and violence being levelled against workers in Iran, insisting that “social dialogue, the organisation of workers and collective bargaining are essential to lasting social peace”.

As member of the ILO, Iran has obligations to fulfil, such as respect for freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association is currently dealing with a compliant lodged against Iran. These latest violations will be added to the case.