Mansour Ossanlou is a leader of the Syndicate [Union] of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company (Sherkate Vahed). He was arrested and imprisoned in December 2005. Following huge national and international pressure Ossanlou was released in August 2006, but rearrested in November. He has since been released on bail and is awaiting trial on the charge of “propaganda against the state” and “engaging in activities contrary to national security”.
This is from an interview with the Iranian Workers Bulletin in April 2007. Full version is at: www.iranianworkersbulletin.org
On the bus workers’ union: The real cause of all this misery is the absence of trade unions and workers’ federations. The lack... create[s] such [poor] conditions for workers.
The important point is to create workers’ associations and unions which with international support and the experience of our brothers and sisters in others countries can strengthen our position in organising and facing up to the lack of rights.
The founding of a workers’ union threatens the illegal interests of managers, the factory security forces (Herasat) and the Islamic Councils (Shoras) in Sherkate Vahed. Knowledge of the Labour Code, the Constitution, international labour conventions and workers’ rights allows workers to stand up to the extortions and bullying of managers and their agents. Through their watchful supervision workers would be able to stop the misappropriation of funds by the managers.
Ever since the current President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, held the office of mayor of Tehran, managers of the Sherkate Vahed have been appointed from the military and the Revolutionary Guard. They are used to “barrack-room” behaviour and bullying, and are ignorant of labour laws and rights and the relationship between workers and management.
On the trials: The emerging co-operation between the management and elements of the security and intelligence apparatus is aimed at the destruction of any union activity. Also, this collaboration is leading to the private exploitation of public assets, which in turn is imposing a heavy price on workers as well as on the country as a whole.
As the regular courts have repeatedly found members of the union not guilty of any wrongdoing, they have taken to fabricating a dossier in the Revolutionary Court. My entire trial was no different to the interrogation sessions in prison and there was not one single document to support these accusations. Clearly the Sherkate Vahed union has delivered a blow to the illegitimate interests of all the Islamic Councils and managers and officials who are not answerable to anyone and who bypass the law.