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۱۳۹۳ آبان ۷, چهارشنبه

Unemployment Problem and Workers’ Interests

The Need for an Organized and Unified Struggle against Anti-Labor Social-Economical Programs

With the initiative of World Federation of Trade Unions, October 3rd of this year, has been called the “Action Day”, the day of struggle against unemployment. On this day, in a protest campaign against unemployment and economic policies, which intensify the unemployment problem, labor unions and labor activists around the world, have organized extensive activities to display their militant solidarity. As an ally and supporter of the Iran’s existing labor-union movement, the Iranian Committee for Labor-Union Relations, in this regard and on this day of protest has tried to be along-side the big family of the World Federation of Trade Unions. Concerning the unemployment crisis and the protest struggle on October 3rd, the Action Day, the following is prepared by the Iranian Committee for Labor-Union Relations and presented to the World Federation of Trade Unions.

We live in a world which in capitalism’s crisis we are witnessing a targeted assault on the workers’ rights, historical achievements and interests. Using this crisis, managers and different governments around the world are threatening workers’ job security and attacking their recognized and obvious rights. Unemployment problem is inherent to capitalism; and the current wide-spread economic crisis is the cause of deepening unemployment around the world. Unemployment is not, and can not be, specific to one country, one continent or a collection of certain countries. All over the world, implementation of the neo-liberal social-economical policies dictated by the imperialist organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Union, not only has targeted rights and historical achievements of the working class, but it has also created the unemployment problem and caused its deepening. The situation in our country Iran is a good example for comprehending this subject and better understanding of the relation between implementation of anti-labor policies dictated by the international capitalist organizations and starting and spreading of the unemployment problem. Unemployment in Iran is rampant. According to the official statistics published by the Islamic Republic’s Center for Statistics, more than 23 percent of the youth between the ages of 15 and 29 are unemployed. Official statistics and estimates also indicate that unemployment rate until the end of this past spring was 10.7 percent. Islamic Republic’s official sources have stated: “Until this spring, 12 million people had no role in the country’s economy.” According to another statistics published by the Islamic Republic’s Center for Statistics, unemployment rate among women (especially women workers), is twice that for men. This statistics emphasis: “18 percent of the men between the ages of 15 to 30 and 41 percent of the women in the same age range (15 to 30 years of age), are unemployed.”         

In a statistic which was published last year, Islamic Republic’s Center for Statistics stated, during the last four years at least 1800 industrial production plants and factories in Iran have been shut down; where as a consequence thousands of workers have lost their jobs. According to this official statistics, during the past recent years, every year on average 530 industrial plants have been closed and the workers employed in those production centers have joined the large pool of unemployed. Also last month (August), while presenting his government’s economic policies, the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, while emphasizing on implementation of the International Monetary Fund’s prescriptions, he admitted: During the last few years 2000 production plants have been closed and 500000 workers have lost their jobs.    

Unemployment problem and its escalation in Iran, most of all is due to the social-economical policies and in general Islamic Republic’s social-economical orientation. This orientation is in accordance with the international capitalist organizations’ dictates, especially orders of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In recent years, different Islamic Republic governments in fact have been administrators of the imperialist organizations’ economic programs and commands in Iran. Implementation of the economic deregulation program, dictated by the World Bank, under the name and title of “Targeting of the Subsidies”, during the anti-national Ahmadinejad’s government and its continuation in the current government of Hassan Rouhani, is a clear example. To make Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization possible, according to this program which earlier had been implemented in countries such as Argentina, Chile, Turkey..…, and devastated their economies, subsidies, including subsidies of food items, housing, energy, and production had to be eliminated. In addition, to attract and draw foreign capital, workers’ and toilers’ wages, and the Labor and Social Security Law had to be reformed and changed to satisfy foreign investors. In other words, programs such as privatization of the industries, especially key profitable industries, and deregulation of the industries under the name of “flexibility in the labor market”, create low-cost and obedient work-force for the privatized companies (these companies especially belong to the Revolutionary Guards, parasitic organizations connected to the government and directors attached to the government), and international monopolies. The point that we must emphasize is that the privatization program has created an extensive wave of unemployment, especially unemployment of the industrial workers in Iran. Companies and factories which are given to the private sector, mainly on the bases of relations, not on a specific legal approach, all of them without exception start modification of their work force, meaning firing their workers and employers. In the oil industries, textile industries, and steel and aluminum production plants, this trend is widely and rapidly taking place and has caused serious damages to the interests of the working class. Following increases in the number of unemployed, wide-spread use of the temporary-contracts has become a devastating factor in the Iranian workers’ and toilers’ lives. With increase and expansion of the unemployment, and with the Islamic Republic government’s support, managers only hire workers with temporary contracts.     

According to the official reports, more than 90 percent of the Iranian workers work with temporary and blank contracts; meaning, the kind of contracts that the worker only signs the bottom of the contract, and managers complete its content later as they wish. Temporary contracts at the same time are levers in the hands of the government and big capitalists for exerting pressure on workers and destroying their labor union, trade and political rights. Iranian workers are denied of the right to strike; and their labor-union rights are not being recognized. Unemployment has lead to intense exploitation of workers as well. According to the official reports published in Iran’s internal media: “In general, this summer more than 41 percent of the workers over 15 years of age…..worked over 44 hours a week and the job market favors over-time.” At the same time another report indicated: “Doing similar work, women, especially women workers, make 23 percent less than men….. Unemployment has caused women workers to work with lower wages.” We must also add, in most cases, workers receive their low wages and overt-time salaries with several months of delay, and often more than six months of delay. The phenomenon of unpaid wages in Iran has become a common occurrence and has turned into millions of workers’ misfortune. Only in the recent three months, because of unpaid-wages, tens of protests have occurred in Iran’s steal producing industries, oil industries, Southern Pars gas producing region, Aslavieh, and iron mines. The phenomenon of unpaid wages is closely connected with the increases in unemployment. This condition is at a time that Iranian workers are denied of their labor union rights and are not allowed to form their independent organization; as it is detailed in the labor-union rights charter and the International Labor Organization’s articles 87 and 98. Six months of jail sentence and 50 lashes of whip verdict for the Razy Petrochemical factory workers, with the trumped-up charges of “disturbing the peace, insult and threat”, is a recent example of brutal violation of the Iranian workers’ labor-union rights.               

Iranian working class and toilers, which were the initial victims of the imperialist interfering sanctions, their lives, interests and job security now, considering the entire Islamic Republic government’s policies and appearance of the imperialist monopolies in Iran’s highly lucrative market, are destroyed and devastated. The interfering imperialist sanctions targeted our country’s production and our national economy; and it served the interests of Iran’s parasitic sectors of capitalism. Now with the government’s programs and Islamic Republic leadership’s (theocratic leader) “Resistive Economy”, to attract and draw American, European and Japanese companies, labor laws are being changed and reformed and cheap and obedient work-force is being prepared. Unemployment has further weakened Iranian workers’ existing labor union movement; and we must emphasize, with implementation of the Islamic Republic’s current social-economical programs, more than ever, Iranian workers will be driven to poverty.

To combat the phenomenon of unemployment, the existing Iranian labor-union movement and independent and real labor syndicates, are correctly fighting against social-economical programs dictated by the International Monetary Fund, and implemented by the Islamic Republic; and in conjunction with that, using all opportunities and openings, they struggle for restoration of the labor union rights. Struggle against unemployment crisis, is not and can not be separate from the fight against anti-labor economic policies. At present, an extensive, but unorganized workers’ and toilers’ movement exist in Iran; which its organizational and solidarity level needs to be elevated; and for that, it needs support of its brothers and sisters of the same class from across the world, especially, the great and glorious family of the World Federation of Trade Unions.

As it is evident, in our country Iran as well, the cause and expansion of unemployment, is due to the programs dictated to the governments by the international capitalist organizations. In Europe under the name of economic austerity, and in Iran and similar countries under the name of “economic deregulation” and “reform of the economic structure”! But all these names contain the same content, and similar and parallel general idea; and their sharp edge is pointed toward workers’ lives and job security.

In conclusion, we would like once again to show our gratitude for the opportunity provided for exchange of ideas. While supporting the important initiative of the Action Day and indicating our active participation in it, in solidarity with the glorious family of the World Federation of Trade Unions, we emphasize, our struggle, our goals and ideals are the same.

Long live Iran’s gallant working class!                 
Salute to Iran’s independent syndicates and brave and conscious labor-union activist!
Victory to the Iranian workers’ struggle for restoration of labor-union rights!
Salute to the imprisoned Iranian workers and labor activists!
Long live workers’ international solidarity!
Long live the World Federation of Trade Unions! 

The Iranian Committee for Labor-Union Relations