‘Free protesters and trade unionists,’ UNISON urges Iran

General secretary Dave Prentis writes to President Hassan Rouhani in wake of arrests following recent protests

Dave Prentis has called on the Iranian government to release protesters and trade unionists following recent unrest in the country.

The call came in a letter from the UNISON general secretary to Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, expressing the union’s “deep concern over the Iranian government’s suppression of recent protests.”

More than 1,000 people have been arrested following the protests, and three have died in prison.

Noting that the Iranian people had “legitimate concerns” over issues such as high unemployment, the non-payment of wages, falling incomes and increasing costs for basic essentials, the union called for the immediate release of the protesters and “a full, impartial investigation” into the deaths in custody.

The letter also noted that workers’ rights continue to be denied by the government in Tehran.

“We are particularly concerned about the ban on independent trade unions and the imprisonment of many union leaders. including Reza Shahabi, treasurer of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company,” Mr Prentis wrote.

“UNISON urges the Iranian government to lift its ban on independent trade unions and release and drop the charges against all those who have been penalised for carrying out legitimate union activities.”

Mr Shahabi was jailed in 2010 on charges of “propaganda against the regime and conspiracy against national security”.

He was released on medical leave in late 2014, following campaigns around the world, but was ordered back to prison in November 2016 and again in August last year.

Download the full text of Dave Prentis’s letter to President Hassan Rouhani