Supporting and expressing solidarity with the strike of Ahvaz steelworkers is the urgent task of the progressive forces globally and in Iran
17 December 2018
Today is the 38th day of the strike of the steelworkers of the Iran National Steel Industry Group (INSIG) in Ahvaz. Last night, the security forces raided the houses of the striking workers and, according to the latest reports [as of this date], 31 workers have been arrested and taken away from their homes. However, despite the pressures, the workers continued their strike this morning and once again gathered and rallied in the streets of the city to reiterate their legitimate rights. In yesterday’s rallies, the workers demonstrated their determination to continue the strike by chanting “The call of each worker: down with the oppressor!” and “Noble citizens, support, support!”
From yesterday, on top of the regular police forces, the regime dispatched anti-riot special forces to the site as well. These forces lined up all over the city and at the plant facing the defenceless and right-seeking workers. To further the atmosphere of fear, last night the security forces of the regime raided the houses of at least 15 workers and arrested them. The pre-planned apprehending of this many workers is meant to undermine the struggle of the workers and the continuation of the strike. The goal of the regime and its security forces is to spread fear, to divide the workers, and to dishearten them from continuing the struggle.
In recent days, the regime has tried to thwart the extension and expansion of the Ahvaz steelworkers’ strike by resorting to various plots and manoeuvres. A delegation headed by Alireza Mahjoob, the infamous figure and general secretary of the yellow organisation “House of Workers”, made a visit to the plant and met with the workers in the mosque of the plant, and tried to urge the workers to discontinue their struggle and end the protests. This attempt of the secretary general of the so-called House of Workers failed amid the courageous arguments of the workers’ representatives and the steadfast opposition of the workers. In this meeting, the workers once again insisted on ending the privatisation; continuing production; reviving union rights; observation and supervision of workers over production; freedom of detained workers; and an end to the threatening and summoning of union activists.
It is worth noting that in recent days, the workers had gathered and rallied in front of the offices of the representative of the Supreme Leader in the province of Khuzestan and reiterated their demand to end privatisation and dispossession and to evict the private sector. Large and strategic manufacturing units like the Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) and the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Complex have been privatised through the application of the executive order of the Supreme Leader concerning Article 44 of the constitution. The workers have rightly recognised that their lack of job security and diminishing buying power is due to such macro-policies of the theocratic regime in Iran; hence they are fighting against it. It has not been only the successive governments of the Islamic Republic that have driven the workers to poverty and destitution, but the main leading role played by the Supreme Leader and its archaic apparatus - the executive order of the Supreme Leader concerning Article 44 of the constitution being a clear example.
With the continuation of the strike at the INSIG Ahvaz and the courageous steadfastness/perseverance of the workers of this manufacturing plant, their demands such as stopping privatisation, dispossession and eviction of private sector, monitoring and control over production by workers, and resolute opposition to the Supreme Leader’s executive order concerning Article 44 of the constitution, have become the national demands of the workers and labour movement across the country. The demands to end privatisation and to provide for labour monitoring over production are supported by many trade unions and social and political organisations.
The theocratic regime is trying to put an end to the Ahvaz steelworkers’ strike at a time when discontent amongst the working class and working people is soaring due to lack of adjustment of the wages in the current year, and such plans as the so-called “mutually-agreed wages”, progressive and regional wages, floating wages, as well as the selling of the assets of the country’s Social Security Organisation. The workers demand job security, a decent livelihood and fair wages adjusted for the real rate of inflation. Also, attention has to be paid to the situation of the detained workers. There are concerns about the health and wellbeing of Ali Nejati. He has been taken to hospital from jail, due to his severe physical deterioration. Freedom of the detained workers and an end to the threatening and prosecution of union activists are among the main demands of the striking workers and the labour and trade union movement of the nation.
In these circumstances, the Tudeh Party of Iran deems the broad campaign in support of the labour and trade union movement and the strike of the Ahvaz steelworkers as a vital necessity and insists on it. Based on accepting/ acknowledging its patriotic and revolutionary responsibility, our party calls upon all national, progressive and freedom-loving forces and political parties and organisations, as well as the trade, social and popular organisations - including the women, youth, and student movements - to express their solidarity with the struggle of the workers. Through joint campaigns, the level of solidarity in the general anti-dictatorship movement can be escalated, and progress could be made in linking and tying the separate protests together.
Our party demands the immediate and unconditional release of the detained workers and will fight relentlessly for it.
Tudeh Party of Iran
17 December 2018