Iranian Workers Need an Internationalist Class Programme

On 14 February 2023, the "Charter of Minimum Demands of Independent Union and Civil Organisations of Iran" translated below was published with the signatures of 20 organisations and institutions. We don't know much about the background and history of how this Charter has come about, but we have previously reported on the struggles of three of the signatories – Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate, the Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers and the Coordinating Council of Trade Union Organisations of Iranian Teachers – and published some of their statements.(1) Furthermore, it seems that the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company and other organisations and activists have voiced support for the Charter but "without having enough time to review and consult with their members".

Why there has been a rush to publish it without a proper consultation with members is not clear to us; however, we can guess that the reason for such “urgency” may be to confront the recent rise of the right-wing camp for “regime change” under the 8-member coalition led by Reza Pahlavi (son of the late Shah of Iran), which has enjoyed the full support of the West to the extent that some of its individuals were invited to participate in the Munich Security Conference as well as the NATO meeting in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

From a geopolitical point of view, Western support for this coalition is there only to put pressure on the Islamic Republic in order to get it to distance itself from further involvement in the Ukrainian war. It is doubtful that the 8-member coalition could ever seriously challenge the Islamic Republic. However, even if it could, the logic for such haste and “urgency” is still questionable. The experience of working class struggle in recent decades indicates that there will be no "quick fix" in any shape or form to our struggle. So it is vitally important for working class militants not to fall into the “quick fix” trap, and understand the nature of the marathon that the working class has to run. For that matter, whilst the Iranian bourgeoisie will not be able to overcome its political crisis easily, at the same time, workers will not be able to topple the capitalist regime of the Islamic Republic so easily either. Taking measured steps is a prerequisite for any meaningful progress.

Having said that, it is a positive step that 20 organisations have come together to present a list of demands, that have been outlined in points 1 to 11, are to some degree a reflection of the specific situation in Iran. No doubt that publishing these demands has created a positive mood and solidarity among working class militants and has given the signal to the general public that the working class will play a vital role in future political changes and developments.

We do not underestimate the determination and resoluteness of those militants that have presented such a Charter in the hellish conditions that the Islamic Republic has created for the working class. As for the content of this Charter, in a broad sense, we agree with the critique of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company, that is:

There is an absence of a specific reference to the key role of the working class and their hard working families, as the absolute majority of society (cutting across regional, national, sexual, gender, linguistic, cultural, religious, age, trade union, sectoral and occupational – industry, agriculture, services, education, health, etc. – divides), in the fight against the capitalist system and its government, and the fact that all-round class struggle will be the deciding factor for any fundamental liberating transformation in Iran.

Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company

The second vital point that is missing from this Charter is the key role of the revolution. Stating a list of demands without fighting for them and not elaborating on how to achieve them is at best misleading, and at worst nothing more than falling prey to the left of capital. Any clause of these demands that evokes the role of a "government-in-waiting" not only does not help with anything whatsoever, but on the contrary, damages and weakens the internationalist revolutionary perspective which is vital for any working class movement today. For example, point 12, which calls for "normalising foreign relations at the highest levels with all the countries of the world based on fair relations and mutual respect, banning the acquisition of nuclear weapons and striving for world peace", is nothing but the spread of an illusion, as if, in a harsh imperialist world order which all workers face everywhere, “fair relations” between countries could be achieved by negotiation and good management!

We are at a critical juncture in history. This is not just an abstract expression of the international situation that would have had nothing to do with the Iranian workers, the nonsense that middle-class pundits keep reminding us of under unrealistic, irrelevant and unattainable and extreme demands. On the contrary, we think that the slogan of "Bread, Jobs, Freedom – Soviet Power!" should have been the banner of this Charter! It is not premature in any sense, in fact it is pretty vital. This slogan has come out of two decades of harsh workers' struggle in Iran, and it has also enjoyed public support in the past. It is certainly a slogan for uniting all workers and it can and should direct the working class movement. The main signatories of this Charter are all workers' organisations; if we cannot provide a Charter under this banner now, then the question is when?

Damoon Saadati
5 March 2022


(1) See articles under the tags Haft Tappeh Struggle and Iran Oil Workers' Strike

Charter of Minimum Demands of Independent Trade Unions and Civil Organisations of Iran

Honourable and Gallant People of Iran!

On the 44th anniversary of the 1979 revolution, the country's economic, political and social fabric has plunged into such a vortex of crisis and disintegration that no clear and attainable vision can be imagined to end it within the framework of the existing political superstructure. It is for this very reason that the oppressed people of Iran – women and young people who are struggling for freedom and equality – have turned the streets of cities all over the country into the centre of a historic and decisive struggle to end the existing inhumane conditions, a movement that for five months, despite the bloody suppression of the government, has not halted for a moment.

The banner of fundamental protests raised today by women, students, teachers, workers, petitioners that are pleading for justice, artists, queers, writers and the oppressed general public of Iran, all over the country from Kurdistan to Sistan and Baluchistan, has attracted the widest international support, is a protest against misogyny and gender discrimination, endless economic insecurity, wage slavery, poverty and misery and class oppression, national and religious oppression, and it is a revolution against every form of religious and non-religious tyranny that has been imposed on us, the vast majority of the people of Iran, for more than a century.

These combative protests that have emerged from the context of great and modern social movements are the rising of an invincible generation that are determined to put an end to the history of a hundred years of backwardness and marginalisation of the ideal of a modern, prosperous and free society in Iran.

After the two great revolutions in Iran's contemporary history, now the great progressive social movements – the workers' movement, the teachers, retirees, womens', students' and youth equality movement, and the movement against the death penalty, etc. – have become a mass movement from below. They have been placed in a historical and decisive role in shaping the political, economic and social structure of the country.

Therefore, this movement aims to forever end the formation of any power from above and be the beginning of a social, modern and human revolution to free people from all forms of oppression, discrimination, exploitation, tyranny and dictatorship.

We, unions and civic organisations, the signatories of this charter, are focusing on the unity and interconnection of social demands, focusing on the struggle to end the existing inhumane and destructive situation. It is for this purpose that we realise the following minimum demands should be the first decrees and outcomes of the protests which the people of Iran have waged. These demands are in our views the only way for the founding of a new, modern, and humane society in the country. We ask all noble people who believe in freedom, equality and liberation, whether they are from factories or universities, schools, any neighborhoods or the world at large, to raise the banner of these minimal demands at the high summit of freedom.

  1. The immediate and unconditional release of all political prisoners, the prohibition of criminalisation of political, union and civil activities and the public trial of those responsible for suppressing popular protests.
  2. Unconditional freedom of opinion, expression and thought, press, forming of political parties, local and nation-wide trade union and civil organisations, assembly, strikes, marches, social networks and audio-visual media.
  3. Immediate abolition of any kind of capital punishment, execution and prohibition of any type of mental and physical torture.
  4. Immediate proclamation of the complete equality of women and men in all political, economic, social, cultural and family fields, unconditional abolition of discriminatory laws and forms against sexual and gender relations and tendencies, recognition of the "LGBTQIA+" rainbow community. Decriminalisation of all gender orientations and tendencies and unconditional adherence to all women's rights over their bodies and destiny and preventing patriarchal control.
  5. Religion to be a private matter of individuals and not to be involved in the country's political, economic, social and cultural destinies and laws.
  6. Ensuring work safety, job security and immediate increase in the wages of workers, teachers, employees and all working and retired workers with the presence and involvement and agreement of elected representatives of their independent and national organisations.
  7. Abolition of any laws and norms based on national and religious discrimination and oppression, the establishment of appropriate supporting infrastructure for fair and equal distribution of state resources for the development of culture and art in all regions of the country and provision of necessary and equal resources for learning and teaching all spoken languages in society.
  8. Dismantling of the repression organs, limiting the powers of the state and direct and permanent engagement of people in the administration of the country's affairs through local and national councils. The dismissal of any government and non-government official by electors at any time should be recognised as the fundamental rights of the electors.
  9. Confiscation of the property of all real or legal persons and governmental, quasi-state or private institutions that have plundered the property and social wealth of the Iranian people, directly or through or governmental rent. The wealth obtained from these confiscations should be urgently spent on the modernisation and reconstruction of education, pension funds, environment and the needs of the regions and sections of the Iranian people who were deprived and had less facilities during the reign of both regimes of the monarchy and the Islamic Republic.
  10. Ending of environmental destruction, implementing fundamental policies to restore the environmental infrastructure that has been destroyed over the past hundred years. Returning to public ownership those parts of the environment (such as pastures, coasts, forests, and hillsides) which under the guise of privatisation have deprived the rights of the public towards them.
  11. Prohibition of child labour and provision of subsistence and education for every child irrespective of the economic and social circumstances of their families. Creating universal welfare through unemployment benefits and substantive social security for all people of legal age ready to work or unable to work. Provision of free education and healthcare for all people.
  12. Normalisation of foreign relations at the highest levels with all countries of the world on the basis of fair relations and mutual respect, banning the acquisition of nuclear weapons and striving for world peace.

From our point of view, the above minimum demands can be realised immediately, considering the existence of potential and actual underground wealth in the country and the existence of an informed and capable people and a generation of young people who have a lot of motivation to enjoy a happy, free and prosperous life. And it can be done.

The demands outlined in this manifesto, meet the signatories' general demands and it goes without saying that, as we continue in our struggle and as we gain strengths in our solidarity, we will endeavour to present them in further details.


  • Coordinating Council of Trade Union Organisations of Iranian Teachers
  • Free Union of Iranian Workers
  • Union of Student Organisations of United Students
  • Center for Human Rights Defenders
  • Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate
  • Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers
  • Iran Cultural House (Khafa)
  • Awakening
  • The Voice of Iranian Women
  • The Independent Voice of Ahvaz National Steel Group Workers
  • Labor Rights Defenders Center
  • Kermanshah Electrical and Metal Workers Union
  • Coordinating Committee to Help Build Labour Organisations
  • Union of Retirees
  • Council of Retirees of Iran
  • Organisation of Leading Students
  • Council of Free-Thinking Students of Iran
  • Painters Syndicate of Alborz Province
  • Committee to Follow up the Establishment of Labour Organisations in Iran
  • Council of Retirees of Social Security Organisation (BASTA)
Thursday, March 9, 2023