Opposition Fails to Organise Strikes
Institute for War and Peace Reporting / Javad Akbari and Niloo Sarvi

With official labour bodies in the hands of the state, its opponents have no means of rallying workers to the cause.

By Javad Akbari and Niloo Sarvi in Tehran (MR No. 22, 17-Feb-10)
Massive strikes by organised labour helped bring down the Shah of Iran, but today the government effectively controls the unions and the strike weapon in the hands of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s opponents has failed.

This month’s anniversary of the 1979 Islamic Revolution, when opposition leaders called for street protests, was a flop in part because police and militias swamped the streets and crushed any attempt by the Green Movement - the protest campaign that grew out of last June’s contested re-election of Ahmadinejad - to gather. There was no call for a labour strike then but such calls have been made recently and have been dismal failures.

Opposition websites have started mentioning strikes as a tactic but the prospects of success are not great.

Most recently, the opposition had promoted calls for a strike on February 1, the anniversary of the day in 1979 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini returned to Iran from exile, leading to the revolution. People went about their business as usual as they had on two other occasions since last year’s controversial election when the opposition tried to arrange strikes.

Key opposition figures such as Mir-Hossein Mousavi and Mehdi Karroubi have never endorsed a strike as tactics for the Green Movement.<... >>>

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