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۱۳۹۲ شهریور ۱, جمعه

New Government, Workers’ Demands and the Role of the Labor Union Movement

Union Rights must be recognized

After taking the oath, Hassan Rouhani’s government started its work. Now, with the introduction of Ali Rabihy as Minister of Cooperation, Labor and Social Welfare, the Iranian labor-union movement is expecting “new” policies. Material facts indicate that during the Ahmadinejad governments, the core philosophy was that if along with severe repression of the progressive workers and independent unions, enough demagogical propaganda on fabricated statistics and false portrayals of the results of the “free market, economic deregulation, shock therapy, small government” economic policies was disseminated, the working class and the common people will ultimately believe it.

Privatization and plunder of the national assets, to be presented as “making government smaller” and “giving people’s work to the people”; stealing from retired people’s dinner table [ILANA (Islamic Republics’ Labor News Agency), July 2, 2013], to be pledged as “bringing the oil funds to people’s dinner table”; and finally, obeying the directions and implementing the economical policies dictated by imperialist organizations such as the “International Monetary Fund” (Mehr, July 22, 2013), to be portrayed as “combating the hegemony” and “combating the colonization.” The points mentioned above, are legacy of the Ahmadinejad’s eight years of detested governments.

As it was accurately described in the “Metal and Mechanical Workers’ Syndicate” and the “Board for Reconstitution of the Tehran Painting and Decorating Syndicate’s” joint letter, “Considering our country’s difficult economic conditions, which beset the Iranian workers; these sanctions have caused production recession in the sanctioned industries, higher inflation, more poverty, and also will lead to workers’ unemployment and decay of the toilers’ families.” There is no doubt that the interfering imperialists’ sanctions have had devastating effects on the Iranian national production and the workers’ and toilers’ daily lives. However, we will briefly describe the neo-liberal “economic deregulation” policies dictated by the “International Monetary Fund”, where with support from the Supreme Leader, were implemented by the Ahmadinejad governments. We will also describe the effects of those economic policies over the workers’ and toilers’ lives.

We will give a few examples describing devastating effects of elimination of the subsidies on national production, and mass worker lay-offs. On July, 22, 2013, in a report entitled, “Targeting of the subsidies resulted in closing of 300 dairy factories”, ILANA reported, “With implementation of the ‘Targeting of the Subsidies Plan’, dairy factories have lost their competitive state in the market and their production capacity has been reduced by 20 to 25 percent.” On July 27, 2013, ILANA reported, “During the last year, from the total 410 units, 195 Mushroom producing plants were shut-down…… Closing of the Mushroom producing plants resulted in dismissal of 80,000 workers.” On January 15, 2013, in a report entitled, “More than 80 percent of the workers live under the poverty-line”, ILANA reported, “With implementation of the ‘Targeting of the Subsidies Plan”, due to increases in the fuel cost, country’s production plants are facing a crisis…… Due to the halt in payment of the subsidies to the production plants, since start of this year, a large number of workers have been laid-off from the production plants.”

A few other examples describing working class’s appalling living conditions. On July 6, 2013, in a report entitled, “Exceeding of the Social Security Organization’s expenses from its incomes due to the differences in inflation rate and workers’ wages”, ILANA wrote, “Elimination of the reference foreign currency exchange rate is very dangerous to the Social Security Organization…… Changes in the foreign currency exchange rate has resulted in 90 percent increases in the cost of medicine and medical services”. Quoting Ali-Reza Haidary, the report added, “This problem has also resulted in 40 percent increase in the cost of internally produced medicine…… Up to now, in response to increases in the cost of medicine, the insurance companies have provided no guarantees; and at this point, the insured individuals have to pay for the increases in the cost of medicine”. The report added,” While according to the law, 10 of the income from implementation of ‘Targeting of the Subsidies Law’ must go to the Health Ministry….. Since elimination of the reference foreign currency exchange rate, the Social Security Organization’s treatment expenses have increased significantly.” It is interesting that with all the problems of the Social Security Organization, which is the result of authorities of anti-nation Ahmadinejad government treating the Organization as their “empty back-yard”; on July 24, 2013, ILANA reported, “On the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of establishment of the Organization, in a rare action, to provide services to the clergy, the Golestan province’s main Social Security Office has opened a special branch at the center of the province. At this point 3750 seminarians and mullahs are covered by the Organization…… Opening of special branch of the Social Security Organization to provide services to the clergy is happening at a time that the funds of the Organization come from 30 percent reduction from the workers’ salary.”

According to the Mehr News Agency’s report on July 22, 2013, during the regime authorities’ visit with the Supreme Leader, Ahmadinejad delivered a report on his economical legacy. In his report, in addition to his usual fabricated statistics, Ahmadinejad described the “Targeting of the Subsidies Law” as a step in the country’s economical structural reform, and emphasized, “The International Monetary Fund, has presented the Iranian method of ‘Targeting of the Subsidies’ as the best method, and recommended its implementation to other countries.” There is no doubt that international imperialist organizations such as the “International Monetary Fund” and the “World Bank” are happy about Ahmadinejad’s implementation of their orders, and will recommend it as a model to other countries of the world.

Economic policies which their implementation started from countries such as Chile, and during the last four years have generated misery in European countries such as Ireland, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Italy; during the eight years of anti-national Ahmadinejad governments, have been implemented with a much more savage rate in Iran. Preventing implementation of these policies, which have been applied with different names in our country and have caused devastation of the national production, rampant workers’ unemployment, and have intensified toilers’ poverty, will only become possible with a united and persistent struggle of the working class and independent unions. The only path for workers’ salvation is the restoration of the union rights, recognition of the right for establishment of unions, prevention of government’s interference in labor organizations’ activities, and its compliance with the International Charter for Union Rights and articles of the International Labor Organization.