Together with other Global Union Federations and civil society partners, EI took part in the Global Action Day for Solidarity in front of the Embassy of Iran in Brussels on March 6, 2008.
As part of the global campaign for the respect of labour rights in Iran, representatives from EI, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) and Amnesty International demonstrated their solidarity with Iranian workers in front of the Iranian embassy. The delegation wanted to deliver a letter to the ambassador requesting the immediate release of all trade unionists detained in connection with legal trade union activities and the respect of fundamental trade union rights. Despite having requested an audience with the ambassador since two weeks ago, the doors of the embassy remained shut to the trade union representatives.
The campaign focuses on Mansour Osanloo and Mahmoud Salehi from the Iranian bus workers' union. They are detained on the claim that they are "threats to the national security," while the reality is that they are simply carrying out genuine trade union activities which the authorities want to crush. Osanloo and Salehi's plight, however, is not unique. Hundreds of teachers were arrested in 2007 when a nationwide strike was brutally crushed by security forces.
Throughout 2007, teachers and academic workers of Iran participated in a nationwide protest movement to denounce the distressing work conditions and livelihoods in education. The government responded to these protests with threats, beatings, arrests, dismissals, and suspension of teachers. Information provided to EI by the Iranian Teacher Association (ITTA) indicated that 286 security files have been opened on teachers who have been arrested in the context of the protests. Over 700 teachers who have been identified in the protests have had pay cuts, 86 teachers have been suspended and 39 teachers have been banned from teaching.
On behalf of colleagues in Iran, EI requests the government to open dialogues with the teacher representatives on their longstanding demand for improved wages and better working conditions. The government should also ensure that the right of teachers and worker organisations to carry out their activities be respected.
EI and its partners will continue to monitor the situation very closely.