On Thursday 20 October, the Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign (SZAC) was launched at a meeting at the headquarters of the National Union of Teachers in central London.
SZAC is a campaign to build solidarity between the labour movement in the UK and Europe and the workers’ movement in Iran. It takes its name from the Iranian painter who was jailed for 11 years for forming a trade union, and who died in jail in September 2015 despite a global labour movement campaign for his release.
Similar campaigns have been launched at the call of Iranian trade union activists in other countries: in June of this year, posters bearing Zamani’s image and urging solidarity with Iranian workers were plastered up in the Afghan capital Kabul.
The launch meeting was addressed by Peter Tatchell, a leading RMT activist, a member of the National Executive of the NUS and a striking Picturehouse worker. A labour movement activist in Iran addressed the meeting by video. The Iranian comrade described Shahrokh’s political work: “The legacy of Shahrokh is still alive. … In his last days Shahrokh was emphasising the importance and significance of publishing a bulletin as an organising tool, as an organising organ for our committee. Over the past year we’ve been systematically involved in publishing and distributing bulletins in the labour areas, in areas around factories … along with distributing and handing out leaflets … in defence of other political activists.”
SZAC is being launched now because in the wake of the nuclear deal with Iran, there has been an increase in workers’ struggles. These struggles often meet with terrible repression, as the government still does not formally tolerate independent trade unions or strikes. In May of this year, for example, workers at the Agh Dareh gold mine were punished for striking by being flogged. But this has not deterred other groups of workers, from school teachers to sugar factory workers, from organising and protesting in the months since.
Trade union and Labour Party branches should pass the model motion in support of SZAC and invite speakers from SZAC to explain the labour situation in Iran.