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۱۳۹۲ شهریور ۱, جمعه

Social Security Organization: Reactionaries’ Fight over Looting of the Workers’ Savings

* In the current critical conditions and facing the regime’s policies such as reform of the “Social Security Law” and the “Labor Law”, the primary task of the labor movement is to avoid discord and division and make a conscious move toward reinforcing the ranks of the labor movement and boosting of the organizational level of workers’ protests.

The fight and competition over management of the “Social Security Organization” finally resulted in the Parliament’s tense session, reflecting intensification of confrontation among factions of the reactionary rulers, and impeachment of the Minister of Labor, Social Welfare and Assistance with the majority vote and his dismissal. The management of the “Social Security Organization”, for various reasons and for sometime had turned into an issue of clash between ruling factions. Ahmadinejad’s exposing of Larijani brothers and the reciprocal response of Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Parliament, is a reflection of the depth of conflict and is a clear indication of government’s instability in the current time and is a reflection of a new period of tolerating within the governing body. Following these confrontations, on Monday, February 5, 2013, Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Prosecuting Office detained Saeid Mortazavy and sent him to the Evin Prison.                 

* What is the Fight Over?

The Saeid Mortazavy difficulty is in fact the battle of the reactionary ruling factions in controlling the “Social Security Organization.” Up to now none of these factions has opposed or has been critical of the agenda and policies implemented in the Organization, policies which have lead to the weakening and wiping up of the workers’ benefits. Particularly, none of the factions and individuals opposing and critical of  Saeid Motazavy’s  presence at the “Social Security Organization” or reform of the “Social Security Law”, a bill which is a creation of Mortazavy and his associates, have not opposed it or rejected the bill. Deceitful maneuvers of some yellow and reactionary, so called “workers’” organizations in preparing  petitions in support of  Mortazavy’s directorship at the “Social Security Organization” is also a move in support of certain factions prior to the presidential elections, and is void of any trade-syndicate motives. It was for that reason that ILANA on January 22 wrote, ”Supporting Martazavy’s staying on the job is political. It seems politicians are trying to amass some labor activists in supporting them……. It seems some politicians are behind this move and have pushed the workers’ organizations [“Grand Center for Islamic Labor Councils” and “Grand Center for Trade Associations”] forward; because, during his tenure at the “Social Security Organization”, Mortazavy did not accomplish a specific task to deserve such a support.” Also, on January 24, Mehr News Agency reported, “What is going on in the backyard of the “Social Security Organization? Politicians share from the government’s giant economic unit. Names of many “political-economic” personalities are on the Managing Boards of more than 250 investment companies of the “Social Security Organization”…….. This clarifies many of the questions that why the case around the directorship of the Social Security Organization is so tumult and turbulent….. Iran’s largest investment company – Shasta – which belongs to the Social Security Organization contains 250 large and small companies; it has around 3 billion dollars of assets and distributes more than one billion dollars of profit.” Therefore, one can understand the nature and content of the uproar among ruling reactionary circles over the selection of the director of the “Social Security Organization” and the fight over Mortazavy’s directorship! While the rights and interests of the workers, the real owners of the “Social Security Organization”, are being ignored and trampled on.

* Theme and content of the reform of the “Social Security Law”

As it was mentioned, the different factions within the government had no difficulties, and still have no difficulties with the agenda and policies implemented in the “Social Security Organization”, particularly with the anti-worker bill for reform of the “Social Security Law”. Regarding this bill, early in November 2012 ILANA News Agency reported, “The reform includes some changes concerning the age and retirement background in normal, difficult, and harmful jobs; increase of the workers’ co-pay for the insurance coverage; reduction in the insurance coverage and free health coverage of the Social Security Organization; sale of the health services to the insured; privatization at the Social Security Organization’s health centers through transfer of the management of the centers; transfer of the government’s public health related obligations to the Social Security Organization; allowing the government to have a choice in  payment or refusal to pay the 3 percent government’s share of the insurance coverage; and other cases.”

Considering these cases, we must clearly say that, the system of “Social Security”, and the nature and goals of the “Social Security Organization” have changes; and this reflects reactionaries’ raid on one of the historic achievements of the Iranian working class’ struggles. These actions are in fact part of the social-economic strategy of the theocratic regime, aimed at elimination of the system of “Social Security”, which its foundation is built on the resources and earnings of the workers of our country. We also must add this point: reform of the “Social Security Law” alongside the reform of the “Labor Law”, privatization of the insurance companies and banks, hand-over of the “country’s customs terminals” to the private sector, and also the plan for privatization of the “Iranian National Oil Industry” are the main components of liberalization of the economy and in fact are the social-economic strategy of the theocratic regime.

To clear the way for his future activities, where the most important one of them is the reform of the “Social Security Law”, Saeid Mortazavy, the ill-famed agent of the Kahrizak atrocities, also famous as the media assassin during the reform period, initially changed the constitution of the “Social Security”. Considering the regime’s strategy in the economic field, which consists of: implementation of the plans dictated by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, it was expected that his assignment would bring very harmful changes to the role, place and extent of influence of the “Social Security Organization”. One of the main goals in reform of the “Social Security Law”, that the reactionaries are after, is weakening of the “Social Security Organization” in favor of the domestic and foreign insurance companies’ activities. The “Social Security Organization” is considered as a strong rival for these companies and it must be “legally” cleared out of the way, so that the private (domestic and foreign) insurance companies can take control of this high-profit market. We have not forgotten that in unison with the Supreme Leader’s slogans concerning the so called “the year of national production”, while speaking to the managers of insurance industry and a group of charity foundations, clearly indicated his wishes for competition, meaning privatizing the insurance industry and a more serious presence of domestic and foreign private sector in this field. Securing and guaranteeing “a more serious presence of private sector” can only, and only, become possible with weakening of the “Social Security Organization”; an objective that the present draft of the reform bill is seeking. In any case, in its nature, the “Social Security Law” reform bill is extremely anti-worker, and the point we must stress on is that some reform items, including the one concerning the retirement age and the workers’ co-pay, is a duplicate of the “European Union” governments’ austerity programs that the “International Monetary Fund” and the “World Bank” are imposing on the toilers of this continent. Regarding this issue, on November 12, 2012, ILANA reported: “Increasing the retirement age by referring to the social security law in the European countries [lets say anti-people economic austerity programs] is trying to increase the retirement age in the country without comparing the Iranian workers’ welfare and income level with those in Europe…….. The relevant question is: Since by referring to the European laws the Social Security Organization is trying to increase the retirement age in Iran, are the pensioners’ services being provided according to the European standards as well?

The bill for reform of the “Social Security Law” has received serious opposition from the working people. This bill has such an anti-worker content, that if approved and implemented, the lives of workers and their families will very adversely be affected, and it will have tragic consequences.

All reform items have extremely anti-worker nature. Because of that, in a report quoting labor activists ILANA wrote: “We workers do not accept the changes in the Social Security Law in its present form. For example, increase in workers’ retirement age is added extortion of our rights…… The Social Security Organization has owner, and its owner are the workers that every month save some of their income in this fund.”

*Worker syndicates’ task in confronting the reactionaries’ assault

 The bill for reform of the “Social Security Law” is an inseparable component of the social-economical strategy of the theocratic regime; which at the present time the anti-national government of Ahmadinejad, representing the ruling reactionaries and in the interest of the big corporations, and harmful to the workers and toilers, is being carried out. Undoubtedly, in a short time we must witness the reform of the “Labor Law” as well.          
Duty of the conscious and progressive workers and independent syndicates is to organize an interconnected and united battle front against the implementation of these so called “reforms”. Dismissal of the Minister of Labor, detention of Mortazavy, and the ruling reactionaries’ exposing of each other, shows the unprecedented exacerbation of the tensions and the consequent regime’s political instability. With care and attention, the labor movement can, and must use these cracks in the interest of restoring and organizing the syndicate movement and reviving the syndicate rights, and also strengthen its relations and links with the national anti-autocratic movement. At this critical moment, priority of the country’s labor and syndicate movement is to strengthen the movement’s ranks and avoid division and drowning in divisive and subjective arguments. Therefore, certain processes counter to benefits and interests of the syndicate movement, in the recent weeks – particularly in the independent syndicates – and attempts to disrupt syndicate activities as a result of rightist or leftist positions, have been worrisome. The labor activists, considering the present political realities, must struggle in organizing an independent, militant, and all-inclusive and expansive syndicate movement, a movement which its doors are open to all workers and toilers. With vigilance and maintaining class conscious, and avoiding all divisive activities, and on proper class foundation, we must struggle to revive and uphold the independent syndicates. We must not allow the reactionary rulers to crush the Iranian working class’ rights, benefits, and achievements with ease and without an organized opposition. With struggle we can, and we must defend these interests and achievements!