Iran: Attacks on Workers’ Rights Escalating

On 15 September, retired and former president of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Company Workers’ Syndicate, Ali Nejati, was arrested after the police raided his home. The next day Mahmoud Salehi, a founding member Bakery Workers’ Union in the city of Saqez (Kurdistan Province) who was arrested on 28 April, was sentenced to nine years imprisonment.

These events follow the tragic death in prison of Shahrokh Zamani, an official of the Tehran Paint Workers’ Union, on 13 September. Sentenced to 11 years in prison for “spreading propaganda” and “endangering national security” following his arrest in 2011, he had been denied access to visitors, phone calls and medication and subjected to physical and psychological abuse in prison.

Teachers’ unions have come under particularly heavy attack by the authorities over the past few months, following silent protests by more than 2,000 teachers in April. Teachers have been subjected to mass arrests and detentions, and several of the leaders of their unions have been sentenced to prison.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said, “Iran is using so-called ‘national security’ laws to justify an escalating repression of legitimate union activity, and to deprive proper legal representation to victims of the repression. This has devastating consequences for those imprisoned and for their families, and it is also highly detrimental to Iran’s society and economy.”

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