Defend Reza Shahabi and all detained Iranian trade unionists

September 10, 2017 at 2:46 pm (Human rights, Iran, LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, thuggery, unions, workers)

The following report is based upon information received from the Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign, dating from 31 August 2017. Presumably, the situation will now be even worse:

After 24 days on hunger strike Reza Shahabi’s health is deteriorating. His condition is now said to be serious.

Reza Shahabi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company, was ordered to return to prison on August 8th. According to a report by this trade union, Mr Shahabi began his hunger strike protest on August 8th as he entered Rejai Shahr prison in Karaj. He is protesting about the legality of his case and prison conditions.

On August 12th the Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company issued a statement regarding the return of Reza Shahabi to prison, saying that the Tehran Prosecutor’s Office acted against the law in not considering Reza’s medical leave as part of serving his sentence and also building a made-up case against him while he was in prison. As a result this labour activist has been sentenced to a further year in prison: “Even though medical leave is counted as part of a prison term, the Prosecutor’s Office is considering this jailed toiling worker’s five months’ medical leave, which had been approved by the medical authorities previously, as absence. In addition, while serving his prison term, through building a made-up case, the court sentenced Shahabi to a further year’s imprisonment to follow immediately after the previous conviction and Shahabi must be held in prison for another year and five months, until January 8th 2019.”

Reza Shahabi is now said to be suffering from numbness in various parts of his body. According to reports, in recent days, due to the increased physical and psychological pressures of the hunger strike, he is losing, or has lost, sensitivity in his left side. This problem is more pronounced in the fingers of his left hand.

According to the prison infirmary, where Mr Shahabi was examined during recent days, his loss of sensitivity needs to be examined by a specialist. Rejai Shahr prison neither has any doctor with this specialism nor have any steps been taken to take him to a health centre outside the prison.

Reza Shahabi is part of a large number of political prisoners in Rejai Shahr who are on hunger strike as a protest against conditions inside this notorious jail. Other hunger strikes whose health is deteriorating include: Saeed Masouri, Saeed Shirzad, Shahin Zoghitabar, Reza Akbari Mofared, Abolghasem Fouladvand, Hassan Sadeghi, Mohammad Nazari, Payam Shakiba, Mohammad Banazadeh, Amir Khizi and Mohammad Ali (Pirouz) Mansouri.

Already many labour organisations have supported Reza Shahabi and demanded his release. These include five French trade unions and confederations: Confédération générale du travail (CGT), Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail (CFDT), Union Nationale des Syndicats Autonomes (UNSA), Solidaires Unitaires Démocratiques (SUD) and Fédération Syndicale Unitaire (FSU).

The International Federation of Transport Workers (ITF) has also demanded that Reza Shahabi and Ebrahim Madadi, a fellow Vahed activist, be released.

Free all jailed workers and labour activists now!

Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign
31 August 2017

Source: Harana News Agency and Trade Union of the Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Company

Add your name to Labourstart‘s campaign, here

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Iranian sugar workers need our solidarity today

July 20, 2017 at 3:22 pm (Eric Lee, Iran, LabourStart, solidarity, workers)

From Eric Lee of Labourstart:

Workers at the giant Haft Tapeh sugar cane plantation and mill complex in the southern Iranian city of Shush formed an independent union in 2008 following a 42-day strike to demand long-standing wage arrears. Union leaders have endured arrest, prison and blacklisting. Today, the workers and their union again face repression as they demonstrate to claim massive wage and benefit arrears.

Conditions have worsened since the company was privatized in a murky deal in 2015 whose details have never been fully brought to light. Since October last year, workers have had to repeatedly hold strikes and demonstrations to demand payment of wages and benefits, most recently in June this year. Thousands of workers have not been paid their wages for two months and as many as four. Pension benefits have been suspended in recent months because of the company’s failure to pay into the state social security scheme. Over half the plantation and mill workers have no permanent employment contracts and live in a state of permanent insecurity. Current and retired workers and their family members have been harassed and threatened with closure of the company if they continue to demand their rights. Workers are routinely harassed, dismissed and kept under constant surveillance of the security forces.

The Haft Tapeh workers and their union are demanding full payment of wage and benefit arrears; recognition of the union as the workers’ legal representative; and the company’s return to government ownership.

Please take a moment to support the IUF’s campaign to demand justice for these workers:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/haft

And please share this message with your friends, family and fellow union members.

Thank you!

Eric Lee

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Iranian teachers’ union leader on hunger strike

May 28, 2017 at 5:56 pm (Eric Lee, Human rights, internationalism, Iran, LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, unions, workers)

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Eric Lee writes:

The name Esmail Abdi should be familiar to you.  In the past, I’ve asked for your help in demanding that the Iranian government free this leader of the Tehran teachers’ union.  Abdi was sentenced to six years in jail on bogus charges and teachers’ unions around the world, led by the Education International, have been demanding his release.

Now things have suddenly gotten much worse.

On 30 April, Esmail Abdi began a hunger strike to protest the continued, unlawful repression of teachers and human rights defenders and the lack of independence of justice in Iran.

Abdi is kept in harsh detention conditions and denied communication with his family and lawyer.

The hunger strike is taking a toll on his health, putting his life in serious danger.

And the prison authorities have not reacted to any of his demands.

Please take a moment to show your support for this brave trade unionist:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/hungerstrike

And please share this campaign with your friends, family and fellow trade union members.

Thank you!

Eric Lee

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Iran arrests leader of teachers’ union

July 10, 2015 at 12:56 pm (Education, Eric Lee, internationalism, LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, unions, workers)

Your protests needed right now – Iran arrests leader of teachers’ union

A LabourStart Appeal by Eric Lee

Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association, was arrested on 27 June following his attempt to obtain a visa to attend the 7th Education International World Congress in Ottawa, Canada in late July.
After his passport was confiscated at the border, he was ordered to return to Tehran to meet with prosecutors. However, upon reporting to the prosecutors’ office he was arrested while more than 70 teachers waited outside in support.

Protest now: http://www.labourstart.org/go/esmail

Abdi’s arrest comes after nationwide rallies were held earlier this year to protest wages that leave the majority of teachers below the poverty line.
The Education International is deeply concerned about the repression facing representatives of the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations and has asked us to launch this very urgent campaign.
It will only take you a minute — please send your message off now:

http://www.labourstart.org/go/esmail
Please share this with your friends, family and fellow union members — and with any teachers you know.

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Hong Kong workers strike for democracy

September 29, 2014 at 6:06 pm (democracy, Eric Lee, LabourStart, posted by JD, protest, solidarity, unions, workers)

From LabourStart:

Support the online campaigns!

  • International Union of Foodworkers – http://www.labourstart.org/go/hkiuf
  • Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions – http://www.labourstart.org/go/hkctu
  • The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions (HKCTU) – the only independent union in China – has called for workers to strike in support of the democracy movement as mass civil disobedience actions come under heavy police attack. The Swire Beverages (Coca-Cola) union and the HKCTU unions of school teachers and dockers are striking and will be joined by other member unions.

    Tensions have been building in Hong Kong since the August 31 government announcement that candidates for the position of Chief Executive would have to be vetted and approved by a pro-business, pro-Beijing committee.

    The protests, originally organized by the students’ federation and the Occupy Central coalition, have drawn increasing numbers of supporters. The mainland government has harshly condemned the protestors’ demands and the “illegal” protests.

    On September 28, the HKCTU declared “we cannot let the students fight alone”, and called for workers to strike in support of 4 demands: the immediate release of all the arrested, an end to the suppression of peaceful assembly, replacing the “fake universal suffrage” formula with the genuine political reform workers have been demanding, and the resignation of Chief Executive Leung Chun Ying.

    The HKCTU has been the backbone of the democracy movement, before and following Hong Kong’s return to Chinese rule. Their courageous action deserves the support of trade unions everywhere.

    Show your support – click on the links above.
    Then, spread the word – via facebook, tweets, etc.

    Thank you.

    Eric Lee

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Support Kevin’s run for LabourStart!

September 10, 2014 at 7:44 pm (Eric Lee, LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, unions)

Kevin Curran, chair of the Central London Hotel Workers branch of Unite the Union and former general secretary of the GMB, is running the Snowdonia Marathon on 25 October 2014 to raise money for LabourStart.

Here is what he writes:

“Like many British trade unionists, I rely on LabourStart to keep me informed about the struggles of sisters and brothers worldwide.

“I have been privileged to meet many trade union members in other countries and have learnt to respect what many achieve with the minimum of resources in often hostile — and sometimes lethal — circumstances.

“The development of the web and the Internet has enabled the dissemination of information about these struggles and given us all the opportunity to express our solidarity and provide support to those in struggle — and for this we owe LabourStart a great debt.

“I welcome the holding of LabourStart global solidarity conferences, but feel that those who need new communications technologies the most are often those who least afford to attend.

“Therefore, I intend to run the Snowdonia Marathon in Wales and invite sponsorship to create a fund to allow under-resourced trade unionists to attend the next LabourStart conference.

“This marathon is particularly tough and I plan for it to be my last one, and through it I hope (if I finish!) to make a small contribution to the great work that LabourStart does.

“I’ll kick it all off making a contribution of £100.  I would very much appreciate any amount that you may be able to afford.”

He adds: “From each according to their ability — to each according to their needs.”

Click here to support Kevin’s run and help create the fund to sponsor participants for the next LabourStart Global Solidarity Conference.

Thank you very much!


Eric Lee


Which campaigns have I missed?  Click here to find out.

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International Trade Union Confederation calls for immediate ceasefire in Gaza

July 22, 2014 at 5:36 pm (Eric Lee, internationalism, israel, LabourStart, Middle East, posted by JD, unions)

From Eric Lee of LabourStart:

On 14 July 2014, the International Trade Union Confederation, representing 176 million workers around the globe, issued a call for an immediate ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza. The ITUC expressed its full support for the UN Security Council resolution calling for “de-escalation of the situation, restoration of calm, reinstitution of the November 2012 ceasefire and respect for international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians.”

Please show your support for the ITUC call:
http://labourstart.us2.list-manage.com/track/click?u=f3995b46c18cb039818f29a32&id=ac08115904&e=2f14d1750b

And please share this with your fellow trade union members.

Thank you!
 

Eric Lee

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Autogrill: Another successful LabourStart campaign

May 31, 2014 at 7:24 am (Eric Lee, Germany, LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, unions, workers)

Less than 24 hours ago, I wrote to you asking for your support in the struggle of Autogrill workers in Germany for decent wages.Your response was overwhelming.

Nearly 5,600 of you were quick to send off email messages to the company urging management to reach an agreement with the workers.

The reaction of Autogrill’s management was swift as well.

Within hours of the launch of our campaign, a representative of their Legal Department got in touch with LabourStart to demand that we stop sending them messages.

They specifically wrote that “we will not tolerate the sending of further messages“.  (That’s right — they actually said “will not tolerate” — as if we needed their permission).

And they added that if we didn’t stop at once “we will start the necessary legal proceedings to protect our interest“.

In other words, your voices were heard.

You overwhelmed the company with your messages of support.

And the striking workers know this as well, they know about the solidarity they’ve been receiving from thousands of workers around the world.

The NGG union in Germany had to take a decision what to do, because this is their campaign and it is their members on the picket line.

After consultation with their lawyers, the union has asked us to suspend this successful campaign and to thank you all for your support.

I am very proud of what we have done, and this is yet another demonstration of the power of online campaigning for the global trade union movement.

It is also important to emphasize that LabourStart only campaigns at the request of trade unions, and we are guided by those unions in decisions about when and if to close campaigns.

Now that you’ve gotten the attention of Autogrill management, please make sure that you’re supporting all our other current campaigns too — click here.

Solidarity forever!

Thank you.


Eric Lee

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Murder – not an “accident” – in a Turkish mine

May 14, 2014 at 8:40 pm (LabourStart, posted by JD, solidarity, tragedy, turkey, unions, workers)

Via Labourstart:

by Kıvanç Eliaçık

Director of International Relations Department
Confederation of Progressive Trade Unions of Turkey – DISK

On 13th of May 2014 Turkey [was] faced with the biggest coal mine explosion in the country’s history. It is reported that there are more than thousand mine workers trapped inside the privately owned mine and death toll rises every single second. More than 230 mine workers died, is the last information we have received. There is a 15 years old boy, Kemal Yıldız among the deceased and more than 80 injured mine workers and rescue team members are at the hospital. 

Unfortunately, there are no healthy official announcements about the death toll and the cause of the accident from the authorities. The families of the mine workers are waiting anxiously in front of the collapsed pit or in front of the hospital, hoping to hear that their loved ones are rescued.

The district of Soma is known for its coal mines, it won’t be wrong to say that Soma is the heart of coal mines. After privatization of the mines for many years, so many occupational accidents have been erupted. Coal mines are just an example to the rest of the occupational accidents that have been going on for a long time in other industrial sectors in Turkey. To give some numbers, the occupational accidents have increased by 40 per cent from 2002 to 2011 in Turkey. This number is too high to be disregarded. The main reasons for the increase of occupation accidents are the widely used system of subcontracting, lack of occupational health and safety measures and inadequate inspection of work places by the authorities.

In order to draw attention of the government on this issue, a Member of the Parliament from the main opposition party, CHP, Özgür Özel, presented a motion to research to the Parliament about the occupational accidents and security measures in the district of Soma recently. This motion was denied with the votes of the ruling party.

Soma Holding is the owner of the coal mine in the district of Soma in Manisa province. Reportedly, there has been an inspection recently in the mine where the accident has occurred. The inspectors, then, concluded that all the practices and the technology that was used in the mine were in line with the relevant legislations. However, still today, the company could not even announce the number of workers who were inside the mine at the time of the accident. This raises the question of the approved technology and its appropriateness, not even talking about the inspection itself.

Soma Holding is a ‘redevance’ company which means that the privately owned mine is run by “rental in return of coal” system. The cost per ton of coal was 130 -140 US dollars before Soma Holding acquired the mine but the company decreased the cost per ton of coal to 23.8 US dollars after the acquisition. It is clearly seen that the company transferred the profit it earned from the mines to the construction sector.  The company is also the owner of the famous skyscraper in Istanbul, named as Spine Tower. Most of the workers are either unregistered or they work for minimum wage.

The government officials, local authorities and mainstream media try to conceal the death tolls and even announce misleading and unrealistic numbers. Repeated information on the company’s undisputed record of security measures and occupational safety is being shared with public, reminding that coal mine accidents are unavoidable. It is unjust and unacceptable when the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdoğan makes a press conference after 24 hours of the accident and said that: “these accidents are usual.”

Just a week ago Ministry of Labor and Social Security organized an International Occupational Health and Safety Symposium. The Minister bragged about the improvements of occupational health and security measures in Turkey, and accused the trade unions for not contributing to the issue. It is important to remember that on May Day this year, he authorities have blocked all the streets and impeded the trade unionists to raise the issue of occupational health and safety publicly on May Day events.

Today trade unions are organizing actions in work places and city centers. ITUC and ETUC members DISK and KESK Confederations, together with TMMOB, The Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects and TTB, Turkish Medical Association announced a countrywide general strike for tomorrow. The unionists, activists, students and workers are gathering in Taksim and in front of the company’s headquarters in protests tomorrow, to remind the duties and responsibilities of government officials on occupational health and safety and to end subcontracting that leads to violating workers’ rights.

According to trade unions in Turkey, there is a system of subcontracting, there is a system of maximizing profit rather than humanity and also there is system of seeing workers’ health and occupational safety as cost items. The company is not the sole responsible of the murders but the authorities who have not conducted the necessary and appropriate inspections are also associates in crime.

We have hope, we wait for good news… But we also mourn… Merle Travis is singing his song ‘16 tons’ for Soma miners; St. Peter, don’t you call me, ’cause I can’t go /  I owe my soul to the company store

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An urgent May Day appeal from Istanbul

April 29, 2014 at 6:12 pm (Eric Lee, LabourStart, posted by JD, protest, solidarity, turkey, unions, workers)

An urgent message from Eric Lee of LabourStart :


Turkey’s first mass May Day demonstrations in Istanbul’s Taksim Square took place in 1976, with the participation of hundreds of thousands. A year later, half a million people took part — but 37 were killed by gunfire.

No one has ever been prosecuted for this crime, and for decades the government banned May Day celebrations in Taksim. Attempts to meet there have been met by tear gas, violence and arrests.

The violence peaked in last year when hundreds were injured.

This year, when unions including DISK, KESK and the Chambers of Medicine and Engineers announced that they would once again attempt to commemorate May Day in Taksim, the government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan responded by announcing a ban on the event.

When union leaders attempted to hold a small press conference in late April (pictured above), police responded with tear gas and more arrests.

Turkey’s trade unionists are demanding their right to celebrate May Day peacefully in Taksim Square, to commemorate the martyrs from 1977, and to call for trade union freedom, a more democratic society, an end to precarious work and better working conditions.

Please support them:
It will take you less than one minute to send off your message of protest to Prime Minister Erdoğan — click here to do this: http://www.labourstart.org/go/taksim
Spread the word about this campaign to your friends, family and fellow union members email this, and post the link to the campaign on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks. If your union has a mailing list, please send on this message to as many members as you can. Time is short. May Day is only two days away. Our brothers and sisters in Istanbul need our help right now.

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