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Global union fears for safety of Iranian trade unionist


Brussels 8 November 2000 (ICFTU OnLine): An Iranian trade unionist has been detained by the government and there are now deep concerns over his health.

The International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) has sent a letter of protest to President Khatami, calling for urgent medical treatment and his immediate release.

Mahmood Salehi, President of the Bakery Workers Union of the city of Saqqez, who was sent to prison on August 24 for a ten month sentence, is now living in inhuman conditions, the ICFTU noted. After repeatedly being denied proper medical care by the prison authorities, he is now about to lose his second kidney, following earlier health problems. Mr. Salehi has been in prison on several occasions, during which his health seriously worsened.

The ICFTU called upon the President to order immediate treatment and to withdraw all the charges against Mr. Salehi. His only crime, the ICFTU recalled, was his courageous efforts to organise workers and defend their rights.

The ICFTU, the world's largest trade union body, backed the petition signed on October 24 by the 180 workers of the union which Mr Salehi presides. It strongly protested over Tehran's methods to silence trade unionists and urged the government to set an example of good will by releasing Mr Salehi, thus respecting the internationally-guaranteed right of trade unions to carry out their activities in full freedom and security.

In its Annual Survey 2000, the ICFTU noted Iran's poor record on trade union rights. The law does not give workers the right to strike and a 1993 law simply prohibits strikes by government workers. This discriminatory attitude was demonstrated on May 1 1999 where dozens were arrested in Teheran after protesting against a proposed law on small businesses.

For more information, please contact the ICFTU Press Department on +32 2 224 0212.

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