Thursday, November 1, 2012

[Part I] Interview with the Coordinator of the Free Union of Iranian Workers

THIS is PART I of this interview.  I will post the 2nd part as soon as I finish translating it in a few days.

It is vital for the World to know what Iranian Worker think. Economical Sanctions imposed by US and Europe on all sectors of Iranian economy, and sheer incompetence of the Iranian government at all its levels are threatening the livelihood of Iranian Workers, consequently pushing the Iranian Workers to the brink of open dissent and despair.  More importantly, World needs to recognize the fact that Poor people of Iran are no fan of Ahmadinejad or Khamenei. 

This interview was published  on October 6, 2012, on that covers all news of Iranian Workers: Layoffs, protests, petitions, ... .

Full Interview in Farsi can be found in here

Some Background: June 18, 2012: Petition by 10,000 Workers Delivered to the Labor Minister Phase I


Etehadeh Website: About 2 weeks have passed since the second open letter of protest to the minimum wage [Law] was presented to the Ministry of Labor. [Translator's note: It was presented on September 22.] The first open letter of protest signed by 10,000 workers was presented [to the Labor Ministry] on 18 June, 2012. Since then, number of signers have reached 20,000. Coordinators of this effort announced they will continue to seek more signatures for the protest letter. This is a great campaign by the Workers,and still continues. The most important question for public and the workers is if this protest campaign result in anything or not. As far as the public is concerned this protest campaign of the workers has gained wide acceptance. However, one thing is clear about this Workers' campaign, the reactions, the efforts, and the results have aroused many questions. Therefore,to clarify various aspects of Workers protest movement, Etehadeh website submitted several questions in writing to Jafar Azim-Zadeh, one of the coordinators of this protest letter, it is printed with no editing in Etehadeh Website.
[Question] Mr.Azim-Zadeh, the current challenge at this time, and after the wide distribution of this Workers protest by the media, is that the Labor Ministry has not replied or reacted to this protest. If things continue in this fashion and Ministry of Labor be silent, what would you do?
[Answer] Not only Ministry of Labor and policy makers did not reply to us, they have tried to impose more slave-like conditions on the workers as we submitted the protest letter signed by 20,000 people. Just a few days ago, they signed the Master-Apprentice mandate and submitted it for execution. This mandate is an extremely anti-Worker mandate, as far as I am aware of labor laws of Iran, never a law that would leave the worker at the hands of the employer for 3 years with no pay [in return], imposing a three-year mandatory labor on the worker, been passed and enforced. Besides,while the livelihood and survival of workers [who are living] with wages sorely under the poverty line, and shocking inflation is threatened and they are protesting with open letter sigend by thousands demanding higher wages, and improved working conditions, Ministry of Labor is trying to modify the current laws with anti-Workers reforms. They want to modify labor law, and make wage increase dependent on the economical condition of the country -- they want to freeze even this minimum annual wage increase. But, we will not be trapped into defending the current [flawed] state of wage increase as we are protesting the new efforts of the labor ministry regarding wages and including conditions making [current] economical conditions part of the wages determination laws. Labor Ministry must answer, workers' wages must be raise several time,otherwise, naturally workers will not be quiet. This has nothing to do with my opinion or will. Is it possible to make things for millions of humans, especially in a society like Iran, so that they keep on living like famine victims? It appears the honorable Minister is confusing now with thousands of years ago.
But, regarding your specific question, I have to state we are working on gathering more signatures, and submitting our third open letter of protest to the Ministry of Labor. The third phase of collecting signatures, depending on conditions, could possibly be the last phase too. Neither us, the coordinators, nor the workers are planning to prepare a protest roll every three months, and idly observe the daily increase of goods' prices,[spread of] poverty, and misfortunes of ourselves and families. If no action is taken [by the Ministry of Labor] regarding the wage increases,while living expenses go up daily and [in cases] instantaneously, naturally the workers would not be satisfied with [issuing] protest rolls, and would resort to protest gatherings.
[Q] Is it really possible for wages to increase with the current situation considering there is only six months left to the end of [the Persian] year? It is said that law does ban any wage increase in the second half of the year. What is your opinion about this matter?
[A] It is not mentioned anywhere in the labor law that workers' wages cannot be increased in the second half of the year. Just two or three years ago, this same administration talked about this matter and promised the workers their wages would be increased int he second half of the year. While the labor law is explicit in stating that the increase in the workers' wages is proportional to the inflation, at a time when the living expenses have increased multiple times since the beginning of the year, it's the duty of the Ministry of Labor to immediately and in accordance to the current labor law to put raising workers' wages on its agenda. Why this ministry [of Labor] and the Supreme Labor Council can neglect the text of the law regarding raising wages proportional to the inflation and the expenses of a four-person family for 23 years, but when the demands of the workers are declared, and the law is express, it is not possible to raise the wages. in my opinion, anyone who puts forth such ideas [i.e., no raise in the second half of the year] is, first, simplistically gibing about the demands of millions of workers for wage increase, and, second, is trampling the current laws. Even if we imagine the Labor Law is not explicit about raising wages in the second half of the year (which it has in my opinion), I have to ask how it is possible that when maintaining profit of employers is concerned by the Master-Apprentice mandate,and freezing of the wages, [they] instantly laws are made up and these efforts are legally enacted, but when the laborers demand wage increase, everything is referred to the current law , and consequently [their demands] becomes legally impossible. In my opinion, the issue is not law. We presented the Ministry of Labor with the first phase of our petition on 10 June, form then till September [22] there was more than three months time. If the current Labor law has any actual restriction on raising wages in the second half of the year and Ministry of Labor had any intention to answer to the Workers, why they no effort was taken during all those time to remove legal obstacles and, suddenly, after presenting them with the second phase of tour petition, they have remembered that Law exists. In my opinion, all of these indicate there is no legal restriction on raising Workers wages in the second half of the year rather [this indicates] clearly that Ministry of Labor is not only after raising the Workers's wages, but by inserting the so-called Labor Law, and imposing a condition that raising wages is dependent on economical conditions, it wants to freeze workers's wages. This problem is absolutely not legal, but not listening to Workers's demands.

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