support Iranian workers

I am currently spending the best part of three weeks at the UN International Labour Organisation in Geneva attending its Governing Body. Meetings are often long and technical focusing on things that whilst they will hopefully make a difference to workers rights and conditions in the medium or long term are often not that tangible in the short term.

Sometimes you wonder if it makes any difference and then the latest e-mail about the arrest or harassment of trade unionists come through, in this case news that Ali Nejati president of the Haft Tapeh Sugar workers union had been detained by the security police and the most basic issues are thrown into sharp focus. The fact that all over the world men and women are being threatened, arrested, imprisoned and worse for simply exercising their basic  human right to join with their colleagues to ask for fairer treatment in work.

Standing up for these rights shouldn’t require bravery or displays of outstanding courage and determination, but again and again it does. The other leaders of the Haft Tapeh union; Rahem Beshag, Reza Rakhashan, Mohammad Heidari Mehr, Ghorban Alipour, Feridoun Nikoufard and Jalil Ahmadi who are currently awaiting sentence, leaders from other Iranian workplaces like Mansour Ossanlu from the Tehran Bus workers or teachers leader Farzad Kamangar imprisoned in appalling conditions for simply defending their members rights are true heroes. Whilst feeling great pride at their resilience and determination we must also redouble our efforts to bring their fight to the attention of others and to achieve a system where the standards enshrined by the ILO and the UN as basic and fundamental human rights are not just written on paper or applied in a few countries but become genuinely universal. As a first step please get involved and support the campaign for these workers in Iran and at the very least tell or your friends and families about the action on the Amnesty website.

Sam Gurney, TUC & ILO Workers Group

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