Labor Force

Power to bring meaningful change


Labor Force

While the discussion of labor unions in United States is controversial, the Iranian society under the Islamic Republic can benefit the cohesiveness it brings among a suppressed working class and presents a forefront imbued with strength in numbers. The Islamic Republic has come to recognize this strength in populace and has guarded against it.

On January 15, 2011, three labor Unions in Iran released the following statement: Reza Rakhshan, the head of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate, commenced his 6 month jail term given to him by the District 13 Court of Appeals on January 3.

While all charges against Rakhshan were dropped by a lower court, the subsequent motion by the prosecutor’s office resulted in a six month jail term at an upper court on charges of “propagating lies” and “disturbance of public peace”.

We condemn the sentence on the head of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate and call for the repeal of all sentences against labor activists and for the release of all jailed workers, including Behruz Nikufard, Alireza Saeedi, and Behruz Molazadeh. Wishing the spread of peace and justice throughout the world; Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Workers Syndicate, and Founding Board to Relaunch Metal and Mechanics Syndicate.

In 2005 Mansour Osanloo (see video) organized an independent trade union of bus workers, consisting of 17,000 members, called Tehran and Suburbs Vahed Bus Workers Syndicate. In doing so, he was able to negotiate a pay raise of $50 per month, owners providing uniforms for the workers, 2 year contract, and other concessions for women workers. On July 10, at a bus stop, he was abducted and dragged away into a car. While being taken away, he shouted his name, so others know who he was. He was taken to Evin prison. There, he was beaten and cut off portion of his tongue to set example for others. Osanloo had been in and out of prison in the past few years. His most recent detention came 3 weeks after he announced of his travel outside Iran. In June he joined fellow transport workers at the International Transport Federation in London, and told them he needed their support. He travelled to Brussels to meet with the International Trade Union Confederation and other similar organizations. He explained his goals were to obtain better salaries and improving the lives of workers in Iran. The International Labor Organization which is a United Nations agency urged the Iranian government to drop charges against Osanloo and other labor organizers and grant them right to independent Unions. The ITF reported in March 16, 2010 that he was moved again within the Rajai Shahr Prison system to ward 5, which is reserved for drug addicts and HIV positive inmates.

In September 2010 Barez Tires went on a 4-day strike. It ended when Kerman labor office gave them some assurances. In November a change in management level brought some willingness to discuss issues and provide answers in exchange of not to strike. Later with the pretext of subsidies cuts, the management did not meet the negotiated matters, prompting a new round of strikes in January 2011. The workers one by one shut down operation. By next day they had 3,500 workers on strike after the night-shift joined them. Among their demands: Permanent contract instead of month by month. To receive Full compensation for overtime. Calling for two days off per week instead of one every other week. Also, protesting production bonuses which have been reduced last October.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had foreseen the troubles ahead for his subsidies cut, and knew the organized opposition might be the unions that may cause disturbance. So he went on a preemptive strike at the beleaguered Unions. In early September 2010, he issued threats to all trade unions and labor activists across Iran against union organizing activity. Meanwhile labor leaders were detained; jail terms were added to those already in detention and placed restrictions on labor reporting. A communiqué were issued to all local and national Media by the Supreme National Security Council on October 5 that there will be no coverage of labor activity of any kind. The SNSC which is the Country’s highest decision-making body also issued a warning to ILNA (Iran Labor News Agency) for its previous labor reporting. By December, a massive security force was in place to crush anyone “disrupting” or protesting on behalf of the unions or individuals.

In the quest for freedom, an atmosphere where individual talents can blossom to productive essence to benefit all, we search for viable options. Unions have been an actor in the political scenes in Iran. They have conducted many strikes in the past decades, and participated in 2009 post-election demonstrations. The interwoven structure of a union with its profound grievances, make them a potent force that no revolution for change can do without them.

Islamic Republic allows only State approved unions that deals only on minor issues such as illegal use of temporary workers, layoffs, dispute over unpaid wages, pension etc. – negotiations on wages and working conditions are not on the table. These Unions exist within the recognized industries like oil, steel, and manufacturing plants. Many workers on construction and individual contractors do not have a union and cannot have one. The goal of having independent unions has been a contentious issue between the working force and the government.

Unions have a friend in Iran’s Majles, Ali Reza Mahjoub, and head of the Workers’ House. He has criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for his subsidies plan, adversely affecting the working class. Labor activist wanted their agenda at the top of Greens Movements’ demands. Instead they have received statement of concern for their living standard and labor rights.

It is imperative the power of unions be employed along with other existing groups in a unified element to challenge the Islamic republic regime. It takes a broad coalition of all people, students, intellectuals, organizations and Women’s groups to unite with the working class, and support them in their pursuit of better life. In return receive the unions’ support, forming a united social front, with the power to bring a meaningful change.


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Anahid Hojjati

Did you grow up in Boroujerd? interesting question Michael

by Anahid Hojjati on

By the way, as I understand there are many people with last name Hojjati in Shiraz. People with this last name now actually they have their own facebook page. It becomes more difficult to keep track of your relatives when they are scattered all over the world. Like I see few of my relatives have all added another Hojjati to their facebook, but I have no clue who the person is, so that is when I go to my mom. She is the best in this kind of things. God forbid if I name someone; even a non Hojjati one I mean, many times she will say oh that person's family is from Broujerd (or khorramabad, Ahvaz, or Abadan) and they are related to us and amazingly, many times, they are.

Michael Mahyar Hojjatie

Nasser Jaan,

by Michael Mahyar Hojjatie on

Anahid and I are related even though we've never met haha. It is through both of our father's sides and by cousin or second cousin status, I believe. And as you know, spelling for Arabic letters to Latin can vary many ways, like Ghazafi's name. Did you grow up in Boroujerd? I get questions like this all the time. Let me know if you can remember any first names, and I will ask my father if any such person rings a bell. Ba sepass. 


to alimostofi;

by pedro on

It is the truth . we have a long and hard road ahead of us. keep it up Ali Mostofi.

We all know that genral strike will choke the regim without a drop of blood from anybodies nose but it is not time yet, using the nuke aquireing islamic regime, wetern countries are making big money. Why should they give up a good source of income just because tens of thousands of Iranian youth are executed, dissapear, raped, totured and burnt every year?  No, tens of thousens humen beeing killed is not good enough reason to give up the wealth coming from both Iran and arabs to europe and America!

I hope Soudi arabi purchases another 65 billion dollars worth of arms then maybe, maybe we can consider regime change in Iran.  


Stop Execution and torture of Iranians in Islamic regime Prisions


Another one?


Hi Michael Hojjatie 

Thanks for your positive comment.

I noticed you had another variation of the name.  My interest on it?

In my 5th grade in Iran I had a play ground friend with this last name or variations of.


Mash Ghasem

روزبه جان، احسنت

Mash Ghasem



Thank you for the great article.

by Roozbeh_Gilani on

In my opinion, mere participation of the working classes in the green movement is the absolute minimum requirement for saving the movement from becoming another "compromise" solution to the current sad state of affairs. But Full, organised participation of the working classes under the leadership of their own political party would take the entire movement and Iran, and potentially the middle east, to something significantly different, new and I dare say the best direction.

 "Personal business must yield to collective interest."


How to remove the Ayatollahs

by alimostofi on

General strikes are tough to do, but this is the only civilized way to do it.  It is very easy for us in the free world, to sit around and talk of general strikes, when everyone asks me, how will the workers stop getting sacked.

Well this is how.  I remember that at the time of the Shah, the problem was easily solved, when the media asked the questions, that prompted nationwide debate on the power of general strikes.

What is missing, in the movement against the Islamic regime, is media support.  No main stream media is willing to ask the question of what the Ayatollahs going to do, if there was a general strike.

If the debate started on a world stage, on a major platform, on the weakness of the Ayatollahs against a non-violent general strike, then the media in Iran would crumble and take the Ayatollahs with it.

But the mainstream media in the West does not want to it.  Heck even our own people in the media don't debate it.  Amanpour was sitting there, later Rose was sitting there, in front of Ahmadinejad, and neither asked him, what could the regime do if there was a general strike. 

So we need to take a step back.  We need to ask the media why aren't they asking this question.  In fact that is why Blogs have started, because everyone is fed up with the main stream media.  But they hold the centre stage.  Once BBC and AFP start to ask the questions, then it will put the chill in the Ayatollahs, just like it did to the Shah.

So now go and figure out how to get the writers like Amanpour, Dareini, Parsi, to ask the questions?

Our problem is our own people in the western media.  Shame on all of them. 


Ali Mostofi



Mash Ghasem

The Tehran Bus Drivers' Union

by Mash Ghasem on

A RadioLabour interview with:
Farid C. Partovi - International Alliance in
Support of Workers in Iran

January 14, 2011

The Tehran Bus Drivers' Union





RadioLabour is the international labour movement's global radio
service. It produces news programmes featuring reports about working
people and their organizations from all around the world.


Yousef Rashidi



If you recall I mentioned him at the end of one of my articles when he was first arrested.  It does not surprises me that Ahmadinejad can not let go of it.  I am deeply sorry about this.  I'll contact Amnesty International to see if we can apply some pressure on the subject. 

Anahid Hojjati

Mr. Shirakbari, I don't think there is any relation

by Anahid Hojjati on

I only know Maryam jan from her comments on IC. As far as I know, all the Hojjatis in our family are Hojjati and no one is Hojjat. Again, thanks for your article.

There is one Hojjati on IC who is related to me. 

Michael Mahyar Hojjatie

Good article!

by Michael Mahyar Hojjatie on

Very informative, thanks!


Hojjat & Hojjati



Thanks for your kind comments

Any relations due to name similarity?


Ossanlu Shackled to Hospital Bed


When I was doing my research, I realized his health was bad, but did not know to what extent.  Last night I wrote a personal letter to Larijani.  In  the letter I reasoned with him and asked him to release Ossanlu.  The point I tried to make with Larijani was that Ossanlu is not an activist against the regime.  Rather he was a union leader who is trying to help his fellow workers for better standard of living.  His goals has nothing to do with state politics, therefore he should not be treated this way.  the labor negotiations with employers is a normal process.  I asked him for the sake of Allah let a sick man go who is no threat to the regime.  I also told him that the entire world is watching this.  His death will be at your hands.  Iran does not need another negative International impression.


یوسف رشیدی


یوسف رشیدی دانشجوی پلی تکنیک بود که درروز دیدار احمدی نژاد ...   یوسف رشیدی دانشجوی پلی تکنیک بود که درروز دیدار احمدی نژاد از پلی تکنیک یک صفحه کاغذ را بالا برد که رویش نوشته بود "رئیس جمهور فاشیست پلی تکنیک جای تو نیست." یوسف رشیدی محکوم به اعدام است هموطن کمکش کن عکسی که ماندگار می شود؛ شجاعت یعنی این برای همه بفرستید با معروف شدنش، شانس زنده ماندش د... By: خبرنامه ملّی ایرانیان //!/note.php?note_id=175214202524702&id=100404743345939

Maryam Hojjat

Great facts in your article

by Maryam Hojjat on

Thanks.  The labors uprising with Greens is the only way for toppling these bastard Akhoonds regime.


We need this

by hirre on

One of the big blowes to the shah regime was when the oil workers stopped working. We need these types of gatherings...

Mash Ghasem

Iran: Jailed trade unionist needs urgent medical treatment

by Mash Ghasem on

Prisoner of conscience Mansour Ossanlu has had a heart attack on 11
February 2011 in Rajai Shahr Prison, Iran. He was transferred to a
hospital where he is reportedly shackled to his bed by metal cuffs on
hands and feet. Over preceding days contact with his family has been
restricted and access to the open air has been limited. We are deeply
concerned about his health.


Go to this page and sign the  petition, please.

Anahid Hojjati

Dear Nasser Shirakbari, what a great article about labor in Iran

by Anahid Hojjati on

In past couple years, there have not been many articles about labor force in Iran. Thanks for your article.

Mash Ghasem

اطلاعیه سندیکای کارگران شرکت واحد در باره وضعیت جسمی اسانلو

Mash Ghasem

اطلاعیه سندیکای
کارگران شرکت
واحد در باره وضعیت
جسمی اسانلو


كارگران شركت
تهران و حومه
: طبق
اظهار همسر
منصور اسالو  ، 
ايشان به دليل
ناراحتي قلبي 
در روزهاي
گذشته از

به بيمارستان
منتقل و پس از
يك سري معاينات
پزشكي  مجددا"
به زندان
منتقل شده

و تصميم براي
نامبرده به روزهاي
آينده موكول
شده است

بيماري قلبي
منصور اسالو  نگراني
خانواده و
كارگران شركت
تهران و
حومه را به همراه
داشته است
كارگران شركت
تهران و
حومه ضمن
ابراز نگراني
خود از بيماري
منصور اسالو
از دستگاه
قضايي انتظار
معالجه و
رسيدگي پزشكي
براي ايشان را
در خارج زندان
محيا سازد