Australian unions are calling on the Iranian Government to release around 80 detained trade unionists imprisoned at the Evin prison near Tehran as part of an international day of action tomorrow against the Iranian Governments ongoing repression of striking bus drivers.

Australian workers will also protest outside the Iranian Embassy in Canberra tomorrow (Wednesday 15 February 2006).

Sharan Burrow, ACTU President said:

Bus drivers in Iran have been trying to establish an independent trade union and have received severe and ongoing repression over recent months.

The Iranian union called a strike at the end of January to protest the detention of its leader, Mr Mansour Osanloo, and in support of its negotiation of a collective agreement with the Greater Teheran United Bus Company.

That action was harshly punished, with hundreds of trade unionists and their families being arrested, and many beaten. Others were pressured into continuing to work, some at gunpoint. Eight members of the unions executive were imprisoned on the eve of the strike after a meeting with the company’s management.

Although many of the arrested trade unionists have been released, the repression has continued. Latest reports indicate that more than 80 trade unionists, including Mansour Osanloo and all the members of the executive, are still being held at Evin prison in Tehran.

This international action seeks to highlight the lack of respect of trade union rights within the bus company. The ILO Committee on Freedom of Association is currently examining a complaint against Iran Ms Burrow said.

During the last two months the leaders of a campaign by bus drivers in Tehran to organise a free trade union have had their homes raided, with a number arrested, and the authorities have used increasingly violent techniques to repress the union activity.

On Wednesday 15 February workers around the world, including here in Australia, are taking part in actions to raise awareness of the struggles of the Tehran bus workers, and to put pressure on the Iranian Government to respect the rights of working people.