Iran

Capital: Tehran
Population: 78.14m. (2014 est.)

Iran was a founding member of the ILO in 1919, but it has not ratified either ILO Convention No.87 (Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise, 1948) or No.98 (Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining, 1949).

During the 1940s trade unions were established under the Council of Federated Trade Unions of Iranian Workers and Toilers (CCFTU), including in the oil industry. Trade unions organised vigorously and openly after World War II until the Shah assumed full powers after the overthrow of the government of Dr. Mohammed Mussadeq in 1953. After the fall of the Shah in 1979, independent trade unionism was vigorously suppressed. A system of tripartite and bipartite labour organisations was established to deal with labour issues at the local level, coordinated by a single national level body, the Khaneh Kargar (English: Workers’ House).

Workers who engage in trade union activities face a serious risk of arrest, detention, possible criminal prosecution, and dismissal. A number of independent unionists and labour activists are currently in prison in Iran and many others are facing longterm prison sentences merely for exercising their fundamental right to associate and to organise. In Case No. 2566 (Report No 351), the ILO’s Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations expressed its view that ‘the situation obtaining in the country may be characterised by regular violations of civil liberties and a systematic use of the criminal law to punish trade unionists for engaging in legitimate trade union activities’.

The Khaneh Kargar (‘the Workers’ House’), was founded in 1982. It is headed by a government official, and is the only permitted national labour organisation. The Workers’ House provides coordination to the Islamic Labour Councils, whose role and regulations are prescribed by the state. It is affiliated to the WFTU.

There are no affiliates of the ITUC, though several independent unions, including the Cooperative Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations (CCITTA), Sherkat - e- Vahed (English: Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company), and Syndicate of Felezkar Mechanic Iran (English: Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran) affiliate to the Global Union Federations EI, ITF, and Industriall.

Full details of the country's political history, the development of trade unionism, and contact and affiliation details for all national trade union centres can be found in ICTUR's in-depth global reference book: Trade Unions of the World.

Link to reportFull country profile: Iran, from Trade Unions of the World (2016)

Link to letterIntervention letter: criminalisation of trade union activists (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: criminal sentence for teachers' union leader (2018)

Link to letterIntervention letter: repression of trade union rights (2016)

Link to reportIUR article: 'An unprecedented challenging situation!', Ahmadi, 2018)

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