Irans fackliga historia

During the period 1905-1925

The first Iranian workers’ trade union organisation was formed among Teheran’s printing workers In 1921, 15 independent trade union organisations started to work actively in Iran. Their membership was estimated to be almost 35 000 workers.

1925 and 1930

Major strike among Irans oil industry workers. Their trade union demands were: 8 hours work, minimum wage, compulsory insurance at work and the right to sickness insurance at work as well as recognition of the trade union organisations. Their strike was supported by political parties, intellectuals, as well as other workers and progressive forces in Iranian society.

During the period 1926-1941

Under the Shah’s father (Reza Shah), through anti-union legislation (in 1931) the regime started to attack and arrest the workers’ leaders, teachers, university teachers, authors, journalists and others.

In 1937, 53 of the most well-known and progressive trade union-political activists were arrested. Some of these prominent activists died while being tortured or from lethal injections in prison.

In 1941 the allies occupied Iran and ousted Reza Shah (the Shah’s father). During this period the social and political climate in the country was relatively more open. This led to the formation of many Trade Unions as well as political and social interest organisations. Four national trade unions and farmers’ organisations formed a large trade union organisation.

During the period 1944-53

In this period many trade union and political organisations were formed. These include the Iranian Workers’ United Council, which was formed to organise workers in manufacturing industry, services and workers in the agricultural sector. Their main demands were; an 8 hour working day and other benefits. The Council initiated the establishment of the Labour Market Department and Labour Market Insurance.

In 1953, through a military coup supported by the CIA and the British Intelligence Service, working with some of the Iranian priesthood and army, the elected prime minister, Dr Mohammad Mossadegh, was overthrown. Most political and trade union organisations were declared illegal. Many opposition leaders and activists were forced into exile or went underground. Major strikes and street demonstrations erupted in 1953-54 and 1958-59.

During the period 1978-79

The workers’ trade union organisations organised strikes. Their actions led to a popular uprising, which was supported by the priesthood in opposition to the Shah. This led to the overthrow of the Shah’s regime and Khomeini’s seizure of power

During the period 1979-80 In the war years, trade union and political organisations were attacked and persecuted by the Islamic regime. Many workers, journalists, authors, political activists, students and university teachers were imprisoned and executed and their organisations banned

During the period 1998-2006

Teheran’s bus drivers’ trade union organisation resumed its trade union activities after about 20 years. Other interest and professional organisations also started to be active.

Other trade union organisations in Iran

Painters, sugarcane workers Hafttappe, the car industry Khodro, miners’ organisation, metalworkers and mechanical workshops. In 2006 the Teheran bus drivers’ trade union organisation arranged its annual meeting.
The Iranian teachers’ interest organisation officially opened its local associations in more than 40 towns in the country. The journalist and reporters’ trade union was forced to work under constant pressure from the regime’s security service.

The nurses’ trade union organisation was not given permission to work openly. Their actions are often local at the state hospitals. There is no official membership recruitment or list.


The most important obstacles and problems in forming national free and independent trade union organisations in Iran:

• lack of economic resources
• avoiding political groupings in trade union work
• being aware of the conspiratorial features of the regime and those in power to break up the unity of trade union activists.
• efforts to achieve a climate of collaboration and unity with other occupational sectors. Pragmatic view in order to form free and independent trade union organisations
• warning against economic corruption.
• increasing knowledge and awareness of trade union work among our own and other occupational groups
• increasing and improving contacts with other trade union organisations and unions abroad
• revealing the state “yellow” trade union organisations’ work to divide workers
• creating collaboration and contact with the progressive intellectual forces in the country. This is in order to gain a correct picture and analysis of the laws and regulations passed