By Yassamine Mather
News about Iran in the Western press has been dominated by the sit-in staged by "reformist" MPs in the Islamic Majles [parliament] who are protesting at the Guardian Council's decision to ban more than 3,000 candidates in next month's elections.
Although the banned MPs can all be classified as Shia and Islamist supporters of the religious state in Iran, the Guardian Council, led by the unelected supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini has banned many of them as well a large of number of other candidates. In Iraq, the Shia clergy is keen on elections, but in Iran, where 25 years of Shia government has brought nothing but corruption, poverty, dictatorship, the clergy is not so keen. In fact only those candidates who are one hundred per cent behind the supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khameini, have passed the test of the Guardian Council.
Inside Iran very few people are showing much sympathy with the MPs. Women and students are fed up with the lack of political progress after four years of the "reformists" controlling the parliament and the "government". Workers are increasingly angry with MPs who have time and time again passed legislation defending privatisation and casualisation, causing poverty, unemployment and destitution for Iranian workers.
The following comments by a representative of fruit and vegetable market workers summarises the frustration of ordinary working people in Iran: "These MPs stage a sit-in a safe place and get all this attention.
"These same people passed many bills against the working class. My question is where can the workers stage a sit-in? Where can we go to get our voices heard?
"I ask you if workers are human, like the MPs, where can they demand their basic rights?
"These MPs passed legislation which deprives 5.1 million workers of medical insurance. I want to know if these MPs are aware that most people with low incomes, including workers who still have a job, relied on such services." This worker added: "Do these MPs have any idea about the suffering of ordinary people in Iran?"
For those of us who follow news about ordinary people in Iran, the main news is about the death of yet another worker from exhaustion - in the Iran Khodro (Iran National) car plant. On 25 December, Omid Oladi, who was working on the night shift, had a stroke while at his post. He died in hospital a few days later. Omid Oladi worked under the cover of a contract company Iran Ehiya Gostar. Another young worker from this company, Peyman Razilou, had also died following a stroke, a few months earlier.
With the "restructuring" proposed by the Labour Organisation (Sazman Kar), the management of the factory had imposed three working shifts, forced overtime, an increased rate of production, reduction of break time, and transfer of parts of the company's activities to a contract firm which deprives workers of their most basic rights.
Now workers in this company have started a strike and a struggle for their rights. They want abolition of temporary contracts, and demand that all workers should be covered by the main company (Iran Khodro), with overtime pay for work during holidays and night shifts. They want an investigation of the death of Omid Oladi and identification of those responsible for his death.
In this struggle, they need international help, support and solidarity.