… alle Verhältnisse umzuwerfen, in denen der Mensch ein erniedrigtes, ein geknechtetes, ein verlassenes, ein verächtliches Wesen ist … (Marx)

Archive for 5. September 2008

Aus der Gesellschaft der Gegenwart

Posted by entdinglichung - 5. September 2008

* Ungefähr alle drei Tage stirbt in Frankreich eine Frau an den Folgen häuslicher Gewalt.

* Emanzipation oder Barbarei weist auf eine Studie zweier Wirtschaftswissenschaftler der TU Chemnitz hin, welche fordert, das ALG II auf 132 € monatlich abzusenken:

“Grundlage der Untersuchung war ein gesundes, rational handelndes Individuum frei von
Sucht- oder anderen Erkrankungen oder Behinderungen mit folgenden Ausprägungen:

-> Männlich

-> 1-Personen Haushalt, keine Kinder

-> Mittleres Alter (18-65 Jahre)

-> Körpergröße 1,70 m, Gewicht 70 kg

-> Deutsche Staatsangehörigkeit, deutsche Verbrauchsgewohnheiten

-> Kein Sonderfall (gesund, nicht geistig und körperlich behindert oder pflegebedürftig)”

* Der Council of Conservative Citizens (CCC) hat in den USA einigen Einfluss auf eine Reihe von Abgeordneten in Parlamenten der Einzelstaaten (v.a. im Old South) und versucht sich als „seriöse“ politische Vereinigung zu präsentieren; der CCC lud nun einer Meldung des SPLC zufolge den Pseudohistoriker und Holocaustleugner David Irving ein … ansonsten sei hier noch einmal der neue Intelligence Report des SPLC empfohlen, welcher u.a. über einige Fälle von Antisemitismus an US-Universitäten berichtet.

* Liverpools Polizei geht seit einiger Zeit gegen linke Infostände und ZeitungsverkäuferInnen in der Innenstadt vor und nimmt dabei einen langjährigen sozialistischen Aktivisten zeiweise in Gewahrsam um dem Status der „Kulturhaupstadt Europas“ gerecht zu werden.

* Phil Hearse fragt: Has working class consciousness collapsed?

Posted in Antifa, Antisemitismus, BRD, Britannien, Frankreich, Fundstücke, Gentrification, Kapitalismus, Klassenkampf, Patriarchat, Rassismus, Repression, Sozialpolitik, USA | Leave a Comment »

Ein Interview mit einem Haft Tapeh-Gewerkschafter

Posted by entdinglichung - 5. September 2008

Das nachfolgende Interview mit einem Vertreter der ArbeiterInnen der staatlichen Haft-Tapeh-Zuckerfabrik in Shush/Khuzestan stammt von der Webseite der International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI) und bietet einen guten einblick in die Arbeits-, Lebens und Kampfbedingungen von ArbeiterInnen in der iranischen Industrie:

An Interview with Mr. Ali Nejati, a representative of Haft Tapeh (Seven Hills) Sugarcane Corporation’s workers

(The text below based on a recorded interview, was originally printed in Coordinating Committee to Help for Creation of Workers’ Organizations’ Journal “Workers’ Movement, #2.” English translation* has been edited and modified from the original colloquial Persian)

**Behzad Sohrabi: Please introduce yourself to our readers, and give us a background of your work history, and your years at Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Corporation?

Ali Nejjati: Born in 1962, due to my family’s financial needs, I’ve been working since I was 10-12 years old. When it was time to be just a kid or a teenager, I began to work. First in construction, afterwards I worked in a brick oven, and then I served in the Army. After my service, in age 22 I started to Work in Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Corporation (HTSC), and for 24 years, since 1984 I’ve been working there.

Q: What were the reasons for your protests and strikes at HTSC? What were your specific demands?

A: Our protests like all other workers; all over the world is over our living conditions. We’re not immune from such issues. Workers at SHSC are in a dire situation. Our work goes on in the heat of summer with temperature going up to 45-50 degrees Celsius or more, and for winter in Khozestan province the cold penetrates your bones, all this for minimal wages and benefits. Since June of 2006 most of our protests were over non-payment of wages. As we all know the current level of inflation in our society is so high that working class families are not able to cope with rising prices. In addition to this problem, not only we haven’t gotten any raises but also our earned wages haven’t been paid on time. Before when we used to receive our wages on time we already had financial difficulties; now that the wages haven’t been paid for 3 to 4 months workers situation has become increasingly worse. Besides these two issues: low wages and non-payment of wages, we also have other demands, concerning job classification, workers transportation, non-temporarily official employment*, and restructuring of the work force. Some fellow workers are the most experienced, and skilled workers in this field, but under the rubric of restructuring they are either retired, or bought out. Of course the remaining workers and the corporation it self were severely damaged due to lack of this skilled work force. These issues were repeatedly discussed in the media but so far we haven’t got any response from the official delegated to deal with workers issues.


* An “official” and non-temporary work contract has become one of the major demands of practically all workers, in all trades and industries in Iran. According to various sources anywhere from %50 to %70 of the total work force in Iran are currently employed on a temporarily basis. Overwhelming majority of these workers have contracts lasting for only three months. They are let go on the 89th day, and re-hired again for another 3 months. This way the employers are not obliged to provide any of the most basic benefits, and always have an abundance easily replaceable work force.

Q: Mr. Nejjati you mentioned that the second phase of your protests began in March of 2008. But even before that there were some protests. Tell us when it began, what demands you had, and what actions you engaged in? We had heard that you took your protest to the city of Shush, and had a rally in front of the governor’s office there. Please elaborate.

A: Our protests from September of 2007 became very public, and serious, and since then we have had periodic strikes. In a period of 2 to 3 months we would have strikes for a week, or for 3 to 4 weeks in a row. Our strikes were periodic until February of that year. When they didn’t pay any New Year’s bounce, in reaction to the severe financial hardship we forced to voice our grievances. We had a protest by the Shush governor’s office, and camped out there for a few days. Our slogans were: “An affordable living is our natural right,” “We’re workers from Seven Hills, and we’re hungry.” Our protest in there went on for a few days until officials gave us promises to remedy the situation, but after a year and half nothing has happened yet.

Q: When you were protesting in front of the governor’s office in Shush, was there any response from the security forces, confronting you?

A: After our latest phase of protests on May 5, 2008, our activities became very extensive, and many workers were involved in them. Workers had a march to the center of the city in Shush, and were chanting: “ Death to Saedi.” Saedi is a member of parliament from Shush, and as far as we know he’s also the head of Agriculture Commission. This gentleman could at least reduce some of the problems for us, but so far has done nothing at all. From May 5 to 24 we had another strike. In the past 50 days workers have had many demonstrations throughout the city, and closed many roads and some of the streets leading to the factory. Security forces have repeatedly clashed with workers, but workers who are fighting over their rights have nothing to fear. They could beat us with batons, attack us with tear gas, but none of these will intimates us. Our rights are what we demand and no one could take that away from us. We were crushed, our children were physically hurt, people had their hands or heads broken, imprisoned, had to appear in court, but we never backed off from demanding our rights. And I promise you that we will not stop pursuing our goals until we achieve our demands, and our rights.

Q: An interesting aspects of your struggle has been a 50 day strike, which has had its own effects on the Iranian labor movement, could you elaborate on this valuable experience?

A: As a worker from HTSC I would like to thank all individuals and organizations, in Iran, and throughout the world that have assisted us. This strong support was one of the reasons we were able to continue our struggle on positive trend. The way we were able to incorporate the experiences of our friends, in our own struggles, at least until now has had a positive effect. At least we reached the conclusion that today’s workers should have their own free and independent organization. For the few years that we had a group called the “Islamic Council” not a single improvement was made in our working conditions. All the workers in SHSC reached the conclusion that we must have our own representatives, elected directly by ourselves. Obviously such a process does not fit with management sponsored and approved entities. Thus the workers have come to realize that today we need a free syndicate. So now we’re trying to form our own free syndicate, and elect our own representatives, so our elected representatives could deal with various local, and national officials on our behalf, and also establish more extensive ties with other labor formations inside, and outside of Iran. I’m very glad that workers in HTSC have reached the conclusion that we need to establish connections with other workers through out the world.

Q: According to the Labor law all candidates for “Islamic Councils” must be approved not only by the employers, and the security forces, but also by the Ministry of Labor as well. Needless to say such individuals are in reality representatives of the employers or the state, and not the workers. My question is what led HTSC workers to re-establish your Workers’ Syndicate?

A: In the heat of the struggle, while we were defending our rights, we came to this conclusion. We saw the need for a speedy creation of an autonomous workers organization. We had many discussions, and now we have a board composed of individuals who have a track record of fighting for workers. This board in empowered by workers to re-establish the syndicate. SHSC’s original syndicate was established back in 1973. Our own active members in this board have the approval of at least 70 to 80 percent of the workers.

Q: Before you decide to re-establish the syndicate, you had collected many signatures, and were trying to from another type of an organization, which was in line with the guidelines of Department of Labor. What happened to that?

A: The signatures you’re referring to were collected in January, and February of this year.
We had about 2000 signatures in relation with syndicate. When we went to the officials they very strongly opposed to title of syndicate. We said well if there’s a legal problem we’ll just creat a trade organization. They were strongly opposed to that as well, and many times through the security forces of the province, and Labor department we were told that under no circumstances did the SHSC workers have the right to even form their own trade organization, which is supposedly guaranteed by the code 131 of the Labour Law. Finally we came to the conclusion that a free syndicate is what we need now.

Q: At the moment you have been able to achieve a certain level of unity amongst he workers, and you yourself are a renowned representative of the workers. How is your relationship with the workers? And to what extent do the workers agree with your views and arguments concerning their demands?

A: I can’t say that workers are absolutely in agreement with their representatives, but on a general, macro level, I would say about % 60 to % 70, give or take a little. Based on workers reaction to our conduct, their very positive response to the call for strike, the talks we hold together to work through the issues, are all indication of workers relative support for us. As an example, after we had a discussion about syndicate, and although we had difficulties in that day, we were still able to gather 400-500 signatures, accompanied with their employee numbers. So at least by this standard we represent 60 to 70 percent of the work force, which is the relative majority of the workers, and we are very happy about this. Now it’s possible that some other workers might not accept us, naturally there is always some opposition. Right now we have about 4000 to 5000 workers, some have a direct interest in these affairs, some have their own specific issues, some can’t be directly connected to us, or join us. We all have different problems. So I hope as a genuine representative of the workers, and as a labor activist, to work towards fulfilling our goals, and recovering our wages, and our rights, as soon as possible, while relying on the backing of our fellow workers.

Q: What was very interesting for me was how you were able to mobilize 4000 to 5000 workers in this unbearable heat of Khozestan province, which a lot of people can not handle. Although you lacked any facilities for a meeting place, and no permission from the authorities to assemble, but since you were determined to have workers elect their own representatives, you were able to gather their signatures and thump prints. Could you elaborate on this process?

A: Though we faced many obstacles as far as logistics and such, but the kind of response we have consistently encountered from our fellow-workers through our protests and strike, the type of ethics and honesty in action, and how we’ve been able to utilize such experiences, has enabled us to become some kind of a model for other struggles. Of course personally I’m really not comfortable to call ourselves any kind of a model, because we have got a long way to go yet. We are simply just workers, but workers who haven’t backed down and have resisted all types of obstacles and difficulties, and have arrived at the conclusion that it’s only through struggle that we could achieve our legitimate demands.

Q: The comments about your struggle were not intended as some type of over-praise. What’s been very evident in you struggle at HTSC for the past few years is the kind of daily organizing undertaken, which has produced its results. My next question concerns the relationship amongst the representatives themselves, how do you coordinate your tasks? Are you content with the existing coordination? If there’s an issue how do you resolve it?

A: Although we’ve been working together for a relatively short period, but because we trust each other, and believe in our goals we’ve been able to maintain a satisfactory level of communication amongst ourselves.

Q: Based on the current government policies in Iran some factories, including HTSC are being restructured, or they’re in the process of ceasing their operations. What do you and other workers at HTSC think about this? What are the observations you would like to share with other workers through out Iran who find themselves at this predicament?

A: As we mentioned earlier this restructuring is a very precise and calculated program. It’s abundantly clear for us that the problems at HTSC are directly related to the central government’s “sugar mafia,” and the specific individuals involved in it. A corporation that was able to producing 100,000 tons of sugar just a few years ago, and had about 70 other affiliate corporations, like Amir Kabir and such, is today on the verge of bankruptcy, due to government’s policies regarding sugar imports, and exports. HTSC is now in such a dire situation that although it desperately needs skilled workers, it’s still restructuring its work force. All of this while it hasn’t paid our wages for 5 months now. As a worker I have this message for all other fellow-workers in Sugarcane industry: workers at Karoon sugarcane, Mian Ab sugarcane, or at Amir Kabir Sugarcane, or other auxiliary projects in Abadan or Khoramshahr, sooner or later, they all will be facing the same problems we’re facing here. As a worker I respectfully ask all other workers in our industry to support us, the way all other labor organizations in Iran such as bus drivers syndicate, or Kian Tire have supported us.

Q: In these few days that I’ve been a guest amongst you, I have heard some stories that like workers purchasing their daily bread on credit, with workers writing their names in the baker’s ledger, hoping to pay back as soon as their 5 months delayed wages are paid. I’ve also heard they’re selling their meager home furniture. Are these stories true, and if yes could you elaborate?

A: Yes, I’m glad that you mentioned this issue, which has become a central problem for us at HTSC. We workers, of course not just us in here but all over Iran, are having a very hard time coping with inflation that’s rampant in our country. Everyone is fully aware of this problem except the officials, who are sitting on treasures, on money from oil, our national wealth, squandering, and stealing all that, having the time of their lives. Of course they won’t know anything about our problems. Even when we were receiving our wages on time we had a hard time dealing with inflation, and now not being paid for 5 months, we have to sell our carpets. Officials keep talking about the dispossessed, but they’re not fooling anyone except themselves. Our only solution is to unite, and establish our own independent, autonomous labor organizations in all cities and on a national level.

*Translated by Hoshang Tarehgol.
** Background information about the interviewer, Behzad Sohrabi

– Born in 1964 in Sanandaj-Iran, Behzad Sohrabi became a child laborer doing various jobs such as seasonal and daily jobs paid below the minimum wage. Eventually, he ended up being employed in the textile industry where he worked for 16 years.
In 1988, following the international workers’ day celebration in Sanandaj, Behzad was arrested and spent a year in the prison. In 2005, he became a member of “Coordinating Committee to help form worker’ Organizations”. Behzad was the spokesperson of the organizing committee for the 2005 May Day celebration in Sanandaj. After the ceremony, he was summoned by the Sanandaj Security Office and was interrogated for long hours. In 2006, Behzad was elected as the representative of workers of Parris Spinning Factory in Snandaj. Later on, in May 2006, Parris workers went on strike for 16 hours, which resulted in achieving their demands successfully. As a result, however, Behzad was sacked by the employer for organizing the strike. That led workers to organize another strike on August 19, 2006 demanding back to work for Behzad, creation of worker’s organization and job security. The security guards, undercover officers, police and special units brutally attacked and assaulted the workers and their families. Many workers were seriously wounded. And Behzad’s dismissal was finalized!
Behzad was also the spokesperson and one of the organizers of the “Committee in Defense of Mahmoud Salehi”. This committee provided updated information about Mahmoud’s situation while in jail both in the country and abroad, did fundraising, and got workers’ support both in the country and abroad for his freedom. They also called for two protest rallies before the Sanandaj Central Prison and Ministry of Justice- Sanandaj in March 2008 that contributed significantly to Salehi’s freedom.
Presently, Behzad is working with “Coordinating Committee to Help Form worker’s Organizations”, defending workers demands and specifically in close relationship with workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company, trying to contribute to their struggles. Behzad, similar to many other labour activists in Iran, has been threatened numerous times and persecuted by the government authorities and employers.


For more information, contact info@workers-iran.org or alliance@workers-iran.org

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

Posted in Gewerkschaft, Iran, Klassenkampf, Menschenrechte - Freiheitsrechte, Repression, Streik | Leave a Comment »