In Iran, Labour Activists Face Repression

(ht2 NajInterview by Bill Balderston, Oakland Education Association and U.S. Labor Against the War

Iran has seen incredible tumult in the last few months, with massive street protests challenging the government, even as the U.S. and allied nations continue to threaten the Iranian government under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But most people in the U.S. know little about Iranian society, and especially its working class. Iranian workers have been organizing for more than a century but today largely have to function in a secretive, underground way. It is therefore very fortunate that we have obtained an interview with a labor organizer (whom we shall call Homayoun Poorzad), who is based in Tehran, the capital city of Iran.

Labor Notes: How has the Iranian labor movement fared under the Ahmadinejad regime?

HP: This has been the most anti-labor government of the Islamic Republic over the last 30 years. The 1979 revolution was not regressive in every sense; it nationalized 70 percent of the economy and passed a labor law that was one of the best in terms of limiting the firing of workers. This is a target for change by capitalists, both private and those in the government bureaucracy.

The economic crisis has helped Ahmadinejad ram thru a new agenda. This is also aided by the acceleration of the percentage (60 percent to 70 percent) of the workforce who are temporary contract workers.

Iran, like other countries, has had an import mania—from food to capital goods. Many local firms are being driven to bankruptcy. Workers’ bargaining power has suffered, with labor supply far outstripping demand. The Ahmadinejad government has been “bailing out” firms, but the government is running out of money.

The situation for labor is at its lowest status since the start of the 20th century, leaving out the years of the two world wars.

LN: What government actions have led to tensions with Iranian workers?

HP: The Ahmadinejad government is trying to make it easier to fire workers. There have also been massive privatizations, including turning over many firms to the Revolutionary Guards and the armed forces. Again, this has intensified the pushing of more workers into temporary contracts.

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Friday! Four Lions

Well done to Chris Morris for overcoming the obstacles and achieving the film. Warp Films Four Lions site.

Help Haiti- Drop The Debt

An international petition has been circulated for the dropping of Haiti’s foreign debt. For an explanation of why this is a crucial move at this time, and why the debt is illegitimate and part of the exploitation of Haiti for decades, read this article by Eric Toussaint and Sophie Perchellet entitled: Haiti’s odious debt

Petition:

Dear Finance Ministers, IMF, World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and bilateral creditors, As Haiti rebuilds from this disaster, please work to secure the immediate cancellation of Haiti’s $1 billion debt and ensure that any emergency earthquake assistance is provided in the form of grants, not debt-incurring loans.

Add your name
here

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Support A Single Mother

The US Army had Alexis Hutchinson thrown in jail and took her child from her because she took her role as a mother seriously, they have now filed four separate court martial charges against her. She was meant to deploy to Afghanistan but when her childcare arrangements fell through, she made the decision not to abandon her child. Clearly the Taliban are not the only military force in the conflict that victimises women.

Alexis and Kamani Hutchinson

Courage to Resist (go to link to sign) will print and mail this letter on your behalf. We will also CC President Obama and the commanding general of US Army FORSCOM

“I appeal to you to find a compassionate resolution to a difficult situation. Please drop the charges against Spc. Hutchinson.”

Dear Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip,

I am shocked and disappointed that four separate court martial charges have been brought against Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a single parent with a one-year old son, who missed deployment in early November 2009 when her childcare plan fell through at the last moment, due to circumstances beyond her control.

In anticipation of deployment in early October 2009, Spc Hutchinson did travel to California and left her son Kamani with her mother Angelique Hughes in Oakland, California, as per her Army family care plan.

After caring for Kamani for a week, Ms. Hughes realized that she was unable to care for the infant in addition to her other duties to a special-needs daughter, an ailing mother, and an ailing sister. Ms. Hughes immediately contacted her daughter and her Ft. Stewart chain of command to inform them that she was simply unable to care for Kamani as planned. Ms. Hughes returned Kamani to her mother at Ft. Stewart.

Alexis and Kamani Hutchinson
The Army initially allowed for an extension of time to find another option; however, the extension was revoked. Spc Hutchinson understood that that Kamani would be taken away from her and placed in the county foster care system. Facing the real risk of permanently loosing her parental rights, Spc Hutchinson admittedly was AWOL for approximately 24 hours and missed her unit’s deployment.

I appeal to you to find a compassionate resolution to a difficult situation. Please drop the charges against Spc. Hutchinson.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Phillip
Deputy Commanding General—Rear
3rd Infantry Division (M)
42 Wayne Place, Suite 200
Fort Stewart, GA 31314-5000

CC
General Charles Campbell
CG, US Army FORSCOM
1777 Hardee Avenue SW
Fort McPherson, GA 30330-1062

CC
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

A Work of Art

This transcends its purpose and becomes a testimony to the intelligence, honesty, humanity and integrity of people and the failure for those qualities to be made essential in our elites. I’m going back to read some more, have a look yourself.

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The Real News- Haiti: Guns or food?

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Need Or Nationality?

U.S. military rescuers searching through the rubble of Haiti’s earthquake-crushed buildings have found no American survivors in the last two days and are now contemplating moving their efforts from seeking the living to recovering the dead.

This raise the inevitable questions, if US survivors were prioritised, to what detriment was that to non US survivors? Was need or nationality prioritised?

PS. Also see Nelson Valdés on rescue priorities in Haiti @ Machetera

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