Sunday, July 29, 2012

IUF: Iranian sugar union leaders under new police pressure

Leaders of the IUF-affiliated independent Haft Tapeh sugarworkers union in Iran have come under renewed police pressure as part of the regime's escalating crackdown on trade union activists.

Act now! - click here to send a message to the Iranian authorities.

Over the past 2 months, members of the union's collective leadership council have been repeatedly contacted by security agents and pressured to dissolve the organization and sign letters renouncing union activity in return for reinstatement to their former positions. Former union president Ali Nejati, who began serving a one year prison sentence for his union activity last November and is currently on medical furlough for heart surgery, has been threatened with imminent return to Dezful prison despite his condition, which doctors say is serious. Prior to his imprisonment last year Najati previously served 6 months in prison on the same charges and was then fired from his job which he had held for 25 years. Some - but not all - Haft Tapeh leaders who served time in prison have been reemployed on inferior terms at Haft Tapeh, but on temporary contracts which leave them vulnerable to instant dismissal.
The union was founded in June 2008 following a 42-day strike to demand long-standing arrears. Since the union's founding, leaders and activists have repeatedly been jailed and harassed, and workers at the giant sugar cane plantation and refinery have repeatedly had to resort to strikes and other actions to claim huge wage arrears and protest deteriorating working conditions.
Other independent trade unions and labour rights organizations in Iran report similar pressure from security agents to dissolve their organizations.
These worker rights defenders need international solidarity and support - click here to send a message to the Iranian authorities demanding that all charges against Ali Nejati be immediately and unconditionally annulled, that the stricken union leader be given all necessary medical attention and that union leaders and members are allowed to conduct their union activity free from harassment and persecution.
Please note that some messages may bounce back - do not be discouraged! Server overload is a common condition in Iran, and the authorities sometimes turn off their e-mail to tune out public opinion - but some messages will get through, making the point that persecuted labour rights activists enjoy international support.