Iranian Labor Unions Have Led Unprecedented Solidarity Strikes Amid the Uprising

January 16 marked the fourth month of a brand new rebellion in Iran, which started with protests in opposition to the arrest and police homicide of a younger Kurdish lady, Zhina Mahsa Amini, for her “improper” hijab. More than 18,000 people have been arrested and over 500 killed by the police and the military within the nationwide protests. Four young men were hanged for their participation in the protests and nine others are on death row. One other 109 protesters face the death penalty. Police and troopers are taking pictures protesters within the eyes and the genitals. Reviews point out an increase within the severity of the beatings and rapes of women and men in custody. When some who’re viciously crushed and raped by the police die of their accidents, the government falsely claims death by suicide. The newly appointed police chief of Iran is the infamous Ahmad Reza Radan, who spearheaded the brutal repression of the 2009 Green Movement and served because the repressive police chief of the provinces of Kurdistan, Sistan and Baluchestan.

Girls proceed to guide the rebellion and oppose not solely the obligatory hijab however the regime itself. Within the phrases of a feminist activist inside Iran who wished to stay nameless: “It’s the resistance of us girls that may truly mark the long run path of historical past. If we retreat, we are going to endure an ideal loss.”

Confronted with widespread refusal by girls to put on the hijab or headband, the Iranian prosecutor basic’s workplace has ordered the police to additional crack down on girls with punishments that may vary from fines to expropriation of 1’s car, lack of paid employment, lack of the precise to journey overseas, lack of authorities and public providers, pressured labor and as much as 10 years of imprisonment.

Previous to this, within the Islamic Republic, the legal punishment for women not wearing the hijab in public was up to two months of imprisonment and a fine. The above talked about further authorized punishments are new. Moreover, the establishment of pressured labor for unveiled girls marks an effort to advertise mass imprisonment of ladies not just for the aim of misogynistic domination and sadistic sexual abuse, but additionally for the aim of manufacturing financial worth at a time when the nation is on the verge of financial collapse.

What additionally must be singled out is that whereas nearly all of the protesters within the present rebellion are younger, most are both from the working class or symbolize the impoverished center class in a rustic the place two-thirds of a inhabitants of 88 million fall below the relative or absolute poverty line.* The four young protesters who were hanged by the regime in December and January had been all from the working class: Mohammad Hosseini, a poultry employee; Mohsen Shekari, a espresso store employee and caregiver for his grandmother; Majid Reza Rahnavard, a store clerk; and Mohammad Mehdi Karami, a Kurdish karate champion and son of a road vendor.

In a rustic the place unbiased labor {and professional} organizing is severely restricted or banned by the state, the few present real labor unions (not state-controlled) have actively participated within the rebellion and are actually explicitly supporting girls’s rights and the rights of nationwide and ethnic minorities of their statements.

In a earlier article, I examined a few of the specific feminist dimensions of the rebellion. Right here, I want to spotlight labor and working-class assist for the continued demonstrations. Under are just a few of the organized labor strikes which have explicitly said their protection of the rebellion. There have been additionally strikes by small businesses, shopkeepers and conventional bazaar retailers that occurred from December 5-7 in 50 cities throughout Iran in solidarity with the rebellion.

A View of the Deepening Labor Dimension

On September 24, every week after protests started, the Coordination Council for the Educators’ Guilds, whose leaders are in jail for having organized prior strikes, issued a call for a nationwide strike. The decision said: “Dogmatic murderers have turned the nation right into a army base for repressing the protesting individuals.… We are going to strike alongside road protests in order that collectively we are able to paralyze the wheels of this repressive system and exhibit the ability of the oppressed to the corrupt, oppressive, misogynist and Different-haters who maintain energy.” That decision led to a two-day sit-down strike which demanded the discharge of all arrested college students and lecturers and a prohibition on the entry of police and military personnel into instructional establishments. On December 11 and 12, teachers struck again in over 60 cities nationwide.

In the meantime, the Council of Petrochemical Contract Staff issued two strike calls in late September and late October. Their first call on September 26 said: “We warn you [the government] that if the arrests, the slaughter of the individuals, and the repression and harassment of ladies due to the hijab shouldn’t be ended, we won’t keep silent. Together with the individuals, we are going to protest and cease work.… We defend the favored wrestle in opposition to organized violence and day by day violence in opposition to girls, in opposition to poverty, lack of assist, and the hell which governs society.” This reference to and recognition of day by day violence in opposition to girls was unprecedented on their half as a result of it went past earlier calls for, which had been financial and known as for the discharge of arrested staff. Following the strike name, on October 10 and 11, over 4,000 petrochemical workers in the southern part of Iran went on a solidarity strike. Over 200 workers were arrested, a lot of whom are nonetheless in jail. They tried another strike on October 25, which was crushed quickly after it began. On December 5, petrochemical contract staff went on a three-day strike as a part of a nationwide strike wave and demanded the discharge of all detainees and an finish to the demise sentences. On December 18, the union issued one other assertion, which emphasised: “We’re now not prepared to stay in slavery and degradation.… The executions won’t deter us from the demand for an appropriate life with dignity and respect.” On January 17, the everlasting oil staff went on a one-day strike. Nevertheless, they only stated economic demands.

The Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Staff’ Syndicate, which has been protesting in opposition to nonpayment of wages, low wages and horrible working circumstances for a few years, issued calls for on October 1, which for the primary time included the precise to decide on one’s apparel and the precise to free speech and a free training. On October 18, they tried a strike however had been repressed. On November 25, the syndicate issued a joint statement with the nationwide union of retirees wherein they said: “We staff are in opposition to any type of oppression, nationwide oppression, gender oppression and finally exploitation.… We demand the exit of all armed repressive forces from Kurdistan and the discharge of all prisoners and detainees.”

On November 23, the Union of Truck Owners and Truck Drivers issued a nationwide strike call . The decision said: “How can we ignore the plight of our harmless co-workers and different individuals in Kurdistan, Baluchestan, Izeh [in Khuzestan] and different bloodstained cities?” The strike began on November 26 and joined a wave of nationwide strikes December 5 by 7. To this point, 4 of the truck drivers who participated within the strike have been sentenced to 1 to 10 years in prison.

The Alliance of Physicians additionally known as on medical doctors, nurses and the members of the allied well being subject to hitch a wave of nationwide strikes from December 5-7. They particularly opposed the executions, the homicide, blinding and rape of protesters, and the arrests of injured protesters by the police and military who enter hospitals.

Disturbances in Iran’s Ruling Class?

The continued rebellion has revealed divisions throughout the ruling class, as seen most lately within the state-ordered execution of Alireza Akbari, former deputy protection minister and former senior commander within the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps who was accused of spying for Britain. Previous to his execution, Akbari had stated in an audio file despatched to BBC that he was being held due to his closeness to the reformist wing of the federal government. A government-related web site additionally claimed that the case in opposition to him had nothing to do with spying however was about “the switch of management.” Whether or not these inner energy struggles will create a rupture stays to be seen. The majority of the ruling class belongs to or is related to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is way too invested in Iran’s militarized state capitalist system each economically and ideologically. Nevertheless, even Ahmad Tavakkoli, one of many members of the “Expediency Discernment Council of the System,” which is the very best physique after the Supreme Chief Ayatollah Khamenei, lately warned that “The riots of the impoverished are approaching.” In response to the federal government’s opposition to a capital good points tax, he stated, “Do not do something that would allow the poor to descend upon us and dismantle us.

On the finish of the fourth month of the present rebellion in Iran, we are able to argue that compared to earlier uprisings in 2009, 2017-18 and 2019, the diploma of working-class participation is larger, and the methods wherein the rights of ladies and minorities are being raised are unprecedented. There is agreement among the majority of the Iranian public that a revolution is needed to open the path to the creation of a peaceable and democratic various.

This can be very troublesome, nonetheless, to have the debates and discussions which can be wanted to articulate and notice a democratic various inside Iran when the repression is so extreme and when feminist, labor, nationwide minority and pupil leaders proceed to languish in prisons. Imperialist regime change will solely make issues worse. As an alternative, we want a sustained and highly effective marketing campaign of solidarity from feminists all over the world to supply training about what is occurring and to ship materials support to girls’s rights and labor activists inside Iran. That may in flip strengthen efforts by imprisoned feminist leaders like Narges Mohammadi, quickly launched feminist leaders like Nasrin Sotoudeh and different feminist activists to achieve out to Kurdish, Baluch, Arab, Azari, Bahai and Sunni girls to interrupt by ethnic and non secular chauvinism and to advertise a progressive, feminist and democratic various.

*In Iran, the minimum income needed for an urban family of four is $800 per month. The current minimum wage for a family of four is approximately $150 per month. The global standard for poverty set by the World Bank is $2.15 per person per day which quantities to roughly $240 per thirty days for a household of 4.