Iranian advocates of democracy have taken to the streets regularly since the fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, promoting a “green revolution” against the heavy-handed, repressive theocracy that rules the country. But there’s another wave of protests that, if linked to the green movement, could greatly strengthen the opposition and give it a more pronounced social-democratic character.
Late last week, for example, workers from the Shiraz Iran Telecommunications Industries blocked highways and sat in the provincial governor’s mansion for three days to protest 13 months of unpaid wages. A few weeks earlier, workers at the Mobarake steel complex in Isfahan staged hunger strikes on two days over pay and pension cuts.
Protests like these are common in Iran and likely to increase dramatically in coming months, according to Homayoun Pourzad, a representative of the Network of Iranian Labor Unions who has been trying to build support for Iranian workers in the U.S.
But when asked if the Iranian labor movement is strong, he answers, “Yes and no.”
There are only a few formal, public unions in Iran, most notably the teachers’ union, a sugar workers union, and the Tehran bus driver’s union, whose leader, Mansour Osanloo, has been in jail for more than two years. Iran’s first unions emerged a century ago and exercised some influence until the CIA-assisted overthrow in 1954 of the democratically elected, nationa… >>>