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NGOs Ask The UN To Look Into Labor Rights In Iran

Protest of bus drivers and Workers union in Tehran on February 28, 2017.
Protest of bus drivers and Workers union in Tehran on February 28, 2017.

In a joint report, the League for the Defense of Human Rights in Iran (LDDHI) and the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (FIDH-OMCT) have asked UN special experts to openly look into the “alarming situation of the activists dealing with unions and labor rights in Iran” and called on Iranian leaders to “end suppression and legal persecution of labor activists, and respect workers’ rights.”

According to the report, “Dozens of labor activists are either arbitrarily imprisoned or are in danger of being legally persecuted for their use of nonviolent means to defend their rights for peaceful assembly, freedom of expression and freedom of association.”

The report is addressed to Annalisa Ciampi, Michel Forst, David Kaye, and Asma Jahangir, UN special rapporteurs for freedom of assembly and association, condition of human rights defenders, promoting and protecting freedom of expression and belief, and the human rights situation Iran. It is also addressed to the members of a special UN group assigned to investigate arbitrary imprisonment.

“On Labor Day in Iran, independent workers associations were not allowed to stage peaceful assemblies. Banning peaceful assemblies is an evident example of the continuity of persecution and suppression of union activists in Iran,” the report maintained.

Furthermore, the joint report points to the fact that despite a substantial increase in the volume of economic and business exchanges between the West and Iran, there has not been enough attention on the contradictions of Iranian law and its government’s behavior with internationally recognized standards for working, economic, and social rights.

“In recent years, all attempts for the founding independent labor union have been brutally suppressed and labor activists sacked,” the report said.

Criticizing the fact that establishing independent labor unions is against the law in Iran, the report added, “Those workers who protest against their unbearable situation are summoned to the courts, convicted to flagellation, or threatened to lose their jobs.”

Highlighting the discrimination against women workers, the report said, “Most women are employed in small workshops, and they are deprived of receiving the same wages as the men in the same job.”

The minimum monthly pay set for workers by the Supreme Labor Council of Iran is 930,000 tomans ($250), which, according to the report, is “between one-third and one-fourth of the poverty line.”