Friday, October 30, 2009

Workers Take Stand Against Charges Brought Against Union Members

Tehran Bus Workers’ Union has issued a statement condemning the charges by which labourers of Haft Tappeh have been sentenced to prison, and requested their immediate release.

The statement by Tehran Bus Workers’ Union explains that following the demonstration of labour workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company, in 2007 for overdue wages - their basic work rights - some were detained and after repeated interrogation were released on bail with the organization of an independent support group. At the first court hearing, the court sentenced these individuals to one year of imprisonment, with a six month suspended jail term. The labour activists had asked the court to revise this decision, only to be faced with the same verdict.
The labour activists of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company were issued these verdicts, while their wages were overdue by three months, while they acquired minimal overtime hours and were deprived of their basic job rights and benefits.
During the past years, the labour movement of Iran has paid a hefty price to improve the working conditions of its members. Many of the workers have been unable to make their monthly rent payments and some have lived below the poverty line, having to spend long periods of time behind bars just to get their very fundamental rights as a worker.
The actions of labour activists are encountered with daily threats, limitations, unemployment and imprisonment. However, this has never prevented them from voicing their concern. Thus, we are sure it will not quash the labour activists of the Haft Tappeh’s union from protesting for their rights now and the Tehran Bus Worker’s Union will not spare any endeavors to attain and assure these labour movement representatives’ freedoms and rights.
On top of condemning the court verdict they demand the immediate dismissal of all detained workers including, Ibrahim Madadi, Mansour Isalou, Farzad Kamangar, and Mehdi Farahi-Shandiz. In addition, they stipulate the abrogation f court appearances of labour activists held in custody on International Labour Day.
Members of the board of directors of labour workers of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane ‘s Union are on the verge of getting fired and face possible incarceration. Based on recent reports on Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company, the threats and pressure from the intelligence agency of Shoosh on the board of directors and labour activists of this association has increased. According to statements released by human right activists and democratic associations in Iran, four members of the Board of Directors of Haft Tappeh union, Fereidoun Nikou-Fard, Jalil Ahmadi, Ramezan Alipour and Mohammad Heidari-Mehr were banned from entering the company’s building. The security guards of Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company administered by the city of Shoosh’s intelligence agency, responsible for suppressing the workers from uprising, prohibited their entrance. The four have recently been sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and a six month suspende penalty. Mr Heidari-Mehr has been condemned to four months’ imprisonment and and eight month suspended penalty.
Mr Ali Nejati, Head of the Board of Directors of Haft Tappeh Worker’s Union, was fired from his job ad banned from entering the premises some time ago. He has been deprived of his salary and job benefits for more than six months despite submitting a complaint concerning the illegal and inhumane dismissal from his job. The office blames consecutive long absences by Mr Nejati, even though he was in the custody of the Intelligence Ministry.
Davoudi, who is head of the company’s security, has doubled the number of security guards from 50 too 100. These guards occupy the communal areas of the company, reporting instantly any sightings of gatherings. Also, to avert potential strikes and protests against suppression and breach of basic labour rights, they have instated informants among the workers, creating mistrust, pessimism and an anomalous environment. Madadi, the president of the company, is largely responsible for supervising these crackdowns on the labour workers.
Reports also site the rage and frustration labour workers expressed following the arrests and prohibition of members of their board of directors. They have announced and warned future protests and strikes in the event of refusal to release these individuals, demanding the immediate and unconditional discharge of all workers in custody. In addition, they demand the return of Mr Nejati to his post and full back payment of his overdue salary. They have also requested an official public apology, in front of workers, from the president of the company to Mr Nejati and other members of the board of directors. Last but not least they demand the firing of Davoudi, Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Company’s Head of Security.
As it stands, the workers have yet to receive their salaries of the last two months. Furthermore their hours have been reduced, cut almost, creating enormous financial pressure.
Human rights and democracy activists in Iran condemn the heavy prison verdicts , dismissal and prevention of worker activist presence in their workplace and call the International Labor Organization (ILO) and International Union of Workers (IUW) to support the members of the Union workers of Haft Tappeh who are members of this organization.

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