ITUC OnLine – May 20, 2009

Joint ITUC, EI, ITF, IUF release: World protests to demand union rights for Iranian workers

Brussels, 20 May 2009 (ITUC OnLine) Four global union organisations representing over 170 million workers have called a worldwide action day on June 26 to demand justice for Iranian workers. Demonstrations will take place outside Iranian embassies and consulates to protest the ongoing denial of rights and arrests of trade unionists within the country.

The ITUC (International Trade Union Confederation), EI (Education International), ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation), IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations) are forming a coalition for the event, which is the latest move in an ongoing campaign to secure justice and trade union rights inside Iran. . Amnesty International has backed this campaign.

They are calling for the immediate and unconditional release of jailed trade union members and leaders including Mansour Osanloo, Ebrahim Madadi, Farzad Kamangar, and the annulment of the one year prison sentences recently handed down against the five leaders of the Haft Tapeh Sugarworkers’ Union, as well as the release of trade unionists arrested in Tehran on May Day.

Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary explained: ‘Each of these organisations has campaigned to protect their colleagues in Iran, and now we are all joining forces to do it even more effectively.’

‘We have exhausted all avenues of reasonable dialogue to persuade the government of Iran to allow basic human and trade union rights. Their answer has been repression and arrests. Given this failure we must take to the streets to demonstrate that the world is watching what they are doing and what is happening to our colleagues within the country.’

For more details please contact

ITF. Press officer Sam Dawson. Tel: +44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email:

ITUC. Press Officer Mathieu Debroux. Tel: +32(0)2 22 40 204. Email:

EI. Nancy Knickerbocker. Tel: +32 (0)2 22 40 611. Email:

Burma: ITUC condemns Aung San Suu Kyi Sham Trial

Brussels, 20 May 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC strongly condemns the trial of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the world’s only incarcerated Nobel Prize winner, which went into its third day today. The only purpose of this mockery of a trial seems to be to make sure she plays no part whatsoever in the upcoming “elections” of 2010.

Since 1989, Aung San Suu Kyi has spent more than 13 years under house arrest, which in itself has already been qualified by the UN as being in breach of international and even Burma’s very own legal system. Earlier this month, after a legal incident concerning an American citizen swimming to her house, only to be arrested upon leaving it three days later, she herself was arrested and transferred to the notorious Insein prison, where she now stands trial for violating the Burmese legislation on house arrest. In spite of rising concerns over her health, her doctor and two nurses were also arrested, and she is not allowed to see them.

Yesterday, on the second day of her trial inside the prison, five of the prosecutor’s 22 witnesses were heard. The trial is being held under tightened security provisions, with riot police blocking off roads and keeping about 700 of Aung San Suu Kyi’s sympathisers at a distance.

In September 2007, a significant nonviolent movement of monks, nuns and democracy activists demonstrated against the military regime in what is now known as the Saffron Revolution. The demonstrations continued for 11 days before the military opened fire on large crowds and started arresting and killing demonstrators. Less than a year later, the regime capitalised on a devastating cyclone to arrest even more activists and ratify a new constitution through a fraudulent referendum, held just a few days mere days the storm.

Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest was scheduled to end on 27 May; therefore, she had no reason at all to break any of its provisions. The Burmese regime is clearly intent on finding any pretext, no matter how questionable, to extend her unlawful detention. The only thing she is guilty of, however, is standing up for the rights of the Burmese people in the face of appalling repression. The ITUC therefore demands that she be released, and that the other more than 2,100 political prisoners who are currently detained in Burma also be released.

Copenhagen Climate Summit: “Just Transition” on the Agenda

Brussels, 20 May 2009 (ITUC OnLine): The ITUC has welcomed news that the text which will guide negotiations up to the December Copenhagen Climate Summit includes a recognition that a “just transition” is needed for workers whose livelihoods are likely to be affected by global efforts to make deep cuts in carbon emissions.

The official “Chair’s Negotiating Text”, released on 20 May by the United Nations’ Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) outlines key proposals on climate change policies, such as emissions reduction targets, technology transfer and funding for adaptation. Trade unions are engaged in a campaign to raise awareness on the need for support for workers and communities in the transition towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient society. The inclusion of Just Transition in the draft is a first step in the recognition that a broad consensus is needed to ensure action on climate change, and that in workers and trade unions, along with other civil society groups must be consulted.

“We are pleased at this positive step, which we believe is essential to ensure that working people are fully involved in building the the green economy of the future. This will be a key foundation for building broad support for the necessary action to reduce emissions. We call on governments to give their full support to this in the lead up to the negotiations and in Copenhagen itself,” said ITUC Guy Ryder.