Tuesday, March 16, 2010


From an article in Counterpunch:
When most Americans think about the recent upheavals in Iran, it is about marches demanding democracy and challenging the June 12 presidential election. The face of those protests is the “Green Movement”—so called because its supporters wear green—that put millions of people into the streets of Teheran and other large cities throughout the country.

Largely unseen, and rarely reported on, however, are thousands of strikes, slow downs and sit-ins by workers challenging the erosion of trade union rights and the government’s drive to privatize the economy, plus instituting policies that will impoverish tens of millions of people.

According to (Iranian labor activist) Amin, over the next few months the government will begin dismantling $20 billion a year in subsidies for gasoline, water, electricity, rice, flour, bus fare, and university tuition. “The Iranian people made these things, fought for these things,” says Amin. “They are all that is left of the [1979] revolution.”

Along with the draconian cutbacks in subsidies, Amin says the government of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is rapidly privatizing the public sector and turning it over “to his buddies in the Revolutionary Guard.” According to official government statistics for 2008, a third of state assets have already been privatized, the vast bulk of it under Ahmadinejad. In many ways this dismantling of the public sector resembles the privatization plan Russia instituted in the 1990s that ended up turning over vast sections of the economy to oligarchs at bargain basement prices.

The resistance to the cutbacks and privatization comes mainly from the trade union movement—much of it underground— but that can be a very perilous undertaking in Iran.

Hundreds of unionists have been fired, threatened, or jailed under brutal conditions over the past few years. Mansour Osanioo, president of the Teheran bus drivers union, was recently released from solitary confinement, but only after an international campaign led by the International Transport Workers Federation and the Indonesian seafarers union, Kesatuan Pelaut Indonesia.

I like unions and international solidarity. We hear too little about it.


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