Iran Khodro Auto Workers Begin Work Slowdown to Protest the Regime

By Al Giordano

The workers of the Khodro automobile company in Iran today issued the following declaration (translated for The Field from the original Farsi by Iraj Omidvar):

Strike in Iran Khodro:

We declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran.

Autoworker, Fellow Laborers (Laborer Friends): What we witness today, is an insult to the intelligence of the people, and disregard for their votes, the trampling of the principles of the Constitution by the government.  It is our duty to join this people's movement.

We the workers of Iran Khodro, Thursday 28/3/88 in each working shift will stop working for half an hour to protest the suppression of students, workers, women, and the Constitution and declare our solidarity with the movement of the people of Iran. The morning and afternoon shifts from 10 to 10:30. The night shift from 3 to 3:30.

Laborers of IranKhodor

This announcement - to my knowledge this is the first place it appears in English anywhere - obtained by The Field by the auto workers of the largest automobile producer in Iran, is significant on multiple levels.

The obvious one is that once the workers begin to flex their muscles on the means of production, no illegitimate regime can continue standing.

Another is that it reveals the malicious lie spread by some that the Iranian resistance is an upper class phenomenon restricted to one or two regions for what it is: untrue.

Another is that it reminds us that the early resistance movement that led to the toppling of the Shah in the 1970s was not primarily theological, but secular and from the left. These workers, many of them, are the children and grandchildren of union organizers and members from that era. They remember.

If the aut o workers work slowdown and protest begins to spread to oil workers and other sectors of industrial labor, watch out. That is the one factor that could most hasten the fall of the regime.

Developing...

(Note: the photo above is a file photo of Iran Khodro workers, not taken today.)

 

Update I: Translations of original news reports in Farsi are starting to come in. The following are also by Iraj Omidvar...

The slogans carried by the people in photos published by BBC Persian are as follows:

Epic of Chaff and Straws

Martyred brother, sleep in eternal paradise. I am awake in defense of your blood.

Congratulations, Brother, on Your Martyrdom

Imam Khomeini, You Are Not Here to See that They Stole Our Votes and Smeared Our Blood on Dirt

Democracy (image of leaves and branches growing from a baton)

Give Us Our Votes Back!!! (English)

Where Is My Vote? (English)

Silence Is the Loudest Scream

Election or Selection? (English)

Selections from the main news article:

BBC Persian sites Guardian as having estimated the crowds in the hundreds of thousands.

Mousavi wore black like most protesters

No sign of Basijis

Apparently a man talking to a Wall Street Journal reporter was approached during the interview by a paramilitary man, targeted the man's neck and killed him...

 

Update II: Here is what's on Pyknet right now, translated by Iraj Omidvar for The Field:

MAIN HEADLINE:  News from behind the coup curtain: Proposal for a referendum for accepting or rejecting the election results.

In some informed quarters in Iran, it is being said: H. Rafsanjani has informed A. Khamenei of the results of his consultations in Qom. Some have interpreted these consultations and their result as a call for assembling the Council of Experts behind closed door with some of the main figures of the Council. What has been divulged through hints about these consultations is that it has been suggested to the leader, that he for ending the current situation, without supporting any side, should support a national referendum to answer people's question of ""whether they accept or do not accept the election results." The results of this referendum will decide whether a new (presidential) election is needed or no. . . . .

ANOTHER HEADLINE:

NOTICE: It has been reported from the demonstration in remembrance of the victims of the people's protest against the coup of Khordad 22 in Tehran that Mir Hossein Mousavi, at the end of his short speech to the people, has said that in order to avoid conflict and violent activities, the Green Movement will not participate in tomorrow's Friday prayers in Tehran.

Update III: Here's a super-interesting report from Al Jazeera about the Ayatollah Khamenei and his "big speech" tomorrow that is intended to save his ass set things right:

The Supreme Leader has many options on the table, from annulling the election to announcing a violent crackdown on the resistance. Friday is going to be a very interesting day...

Update IV: Andrew Sullivan's got a gripping YouTube video up from the city of Ifsahan, filmed from a rooftop in an apartment complex where Basij "revolutionary militias" are raiding homes. Here's a summary of what is being said by the video makers on the roof:

The man and woman speaking are seemingly family from this neighborhood. They are witnessing (and saying this on the video in disbelief) the attack of the basijis on people's homes, they are invading people's homes and shooting at them, chasing them up to their own roofs and shooting them down.

The woman speaking is trying to reach her mother but the phone calls don't go through. She is taking the video and crying at the injustice, saying "How can I take this video and just watch people getting killed inside their own homes." The man yells at the basijs or police "Shame on you heartless people, don't shoot at people" and the woman cries out "I hope you all die" and the man runs off for help presumably and asks her to keep filming.

It's difficult to understand the mentality of the regime's defenders. They don't believe it, but that level of brutality is what they are shilling for...

Update V: Iraj Omidvar translates from Entekhab News for The Field:

 

2:51 PM, 28 of Khordad 1388 (That's today our time)

According to measurements in the demonstrations by the supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi in the Azadi Square, at least three million people were present.
A representative of the Principalist faction (caucus) on the sides of yesterday's public meeting of the Majles (parliament) stated unofficially that according to the report submitted to the Majles from Mohamad Bagher Ghalibaf, mayor of Tehran, in the demonstrations by the supporters of of Mir Hossein Mousavi in the Azadi Square at least three million people were present.

Three million in a city of 7.5 million population. Think about it.

 

 

 

Comments

Bet they want EFCA too...

Wonder if the (mostly) anti-union Republicans posturing about Obama to "get tough" on the Iranian regime* are going to be as equally supportive now that dreaded LABOR (cue scary music) is getting involved.
*Mike Pence Undermines the Iranian People

Two-Fold...

First...this is a BIG domino.  I think you're exactly right, if this spreads to other sectors we're in for a change faster than we might have thought.  Let's hope this move emboldens other unions throughout the country.  Considering the 40+% unemployment already in Iran, strikes have an even bigger effect.

Second, I wonder if this effect does start to take place...if unions here in the US might take notice and start flexing their muscle more on things like EFCA and Health Care reform.

re: Friday prayers

I've seen reports saying that the message for protestors to not attend prayers is misinformation by the regime.  Is there video of Mousavi saying that?

From Nico Pitney of HuffPo:

8:13 PM ET -- Tomorrow's events. I think I have a better handle on what's going on. It seems as if a) the supposed Mousavi "request" for people not to attend prayers is a hoax, but b) Mousavi has decided to delay a planned Friday rally until Saturday.

Scroll down to 8:13 PM: Request a Hoax?

 

Edit: Maybe Mousavi just means for people not to show up in "protesting mode" (i.e., go for some non-political religious observance without turning it into a "statement").  Seems like a smart move to me to reinforce the idea that he and his supporters aren't anti-religion.

is Iran Khodro unionized?

Are the workers even unionized? or is this just orders from management, akin to what happened in venezuela? I really have no idea, just asking.

Thanks a lot.

david.

"The game is already lost."

The "Iran Expert" in the clip says this.  Isn't this basically what Al said a couple of days ago as well?

Cat out of bag.

Genie out of bottle.

and so on...

re: Friday prayers

Russell: it's a little crazy at the moment; even the usually well-vetted, Iranian-generated Twitter correspondence I've been following and re-twittering is a little hazy on the plans. Also, there appears to have been an attempt to manipulate Mousavi's Facebook page, which added to the confusion.

In truth, social networking has been a critical tool, yet Movements have run well without them for centuries. So, in Obama campaign parlance, tomorrow is all about the "ground game"; what the volunteers/protectors decide to do on their own, self-organized and far away from HQ -- not that this movement has had one to begin with! So far, with very little training in non-violent resistance, they've done wonders in corralling their more heated members, and in focusing people to present themselves in ways that enhance their goals, not detract with acts that show them in a bad light to either the regime or the West.

Also keep in mind that many of those protesting are deeply religious Muslims, and not easily given to making light of Friday prayers. I don't know what will happen, and as Al notes, no one knows what the Supreme Leader will say. Much will ride on that, but I doubt there are, or were, any plans to be disruptive, even if provoked, and they'll work to keep any hair-triggers simmered down. We'll see if they can keep it going, and I pray that they can.

@ David

David - Not only is Iran Khodro unionized, and not only did that statement above come from the union, but it is a combative union that went on strike in May and beat the company bosses, which sells 65 percent of all autos in Iran and dominates many African markets, too:

"The strike of the Iran Khodro workers to get their unpaid wages and convert temporary contracts to permanent ones ends in victory Last week the workers of Iran Khodro were successful with their glorious strike which started in the assembly hall and continued in the shuttle (body) hall and ended with the press hall strike. The workers’ immediate demands were payment of their unpaid wages (productivity and last year’s production record bonuses) and to switch workers on temporary contracts to contracts of the Iran Khodro Company itself."

Wow.

This is a fascinating development.

Mousavi among the People

Al.  I have been reading

Al.  I have been reading you for years...and years...and then a few more years.  I understand that the revolution in the street is left and secular.  I understand that the first Iranian revolution of left and secular.  Where is the left, secular leadership.  Mousavi?  Rafsanjani?  Rafsanjani was the man who sold out the first revolution and collected a billion and then was thrown out.  How is it the Rafsanjani is not going to sell out this revolution.  Once again, where is the left, secular leadership.  Nothing would please me more to see a left, secular revolution in Iran, but with Rafsanjani how is it that we are going to avoid another Naomi Klein "Shock Doctrine".  Lech Walesa did not get what he bargained for and that list is very long.  For what it is worth, no one hopes you are right more than I.

A misguided soul from the left

Sullivan Cross Post

Andrew directs readers to Al's post on Khodro Auto

Workers:

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/

In light of the Supreme Ruler's speech today, the next days are critical.

@Jesus

I do not claim to know much information about Iran. But living in the Middle East has taught me a few things. The revolution you are seeing is NOT about having a left secular government in Iran and from all the analysis Al has posted he is not saying that either--from what I understand. 

What you are seeing is the Iranians are having a revolution against THIS religious regime. In other words, THIS fundamentalist, oppressive, dictatorial, and brutal regime. That does not mean they want a nonreligious government and a secular liberal one. That may not ever happen. But what they do want is CHANGE in the Islamic Repubic from the past 30 years. 

If they do succeed in replacing the current leaders with news ones, they will still be religious and conservative but not necessarily oppressive, intolerant, and fundamentalist.

My two cents in and hope that helped.

@Jesus - My own two cents is

@Jesus - My own two cents is that, while the discussion of who in particular will succeed Ahmadinejad isn't wholly unimportant, the more interesting question in front of us in this case is what context will the new leadership find itself in?What sort of population are they leading?  What sort of decisions will this population allow them to make? How much work is the new leadership going to have to do to get around this massive new sense of self awareness about their own power that these people seem to be discovering? Whether that leader is Ahmadinejad, Mousavi or Rafsanjani, while not exactly academic, seems at the least far less interesting - and perhaps even less important.

Thanks for this, Al, and previous post

Very much appreciate this significant piece of news that I have not seen reported anywhere else, and also your analysis in the previous post (including comments).  Thanks.

This is a censored forum -

This is a censored forum - al's playground. Al is defending the "peaceful protesters" stragiht from obamas mouth as if the protestors have not been attacking people, police and buildings. Way to go Al defend radio farda and a country sourrounded on two sides. I guess Obama rescinded this the following bush order and made the US into a non imperial entity in a few months. Long live partisan hackery. -  Bush Authorizes Covert Action Against Iran http://thetruthproject.wordpress.com...-against-iran/  Check out these peaceful protesters http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDmLSuQlRTM

It's so censored that...

Miguel - Perhaps you missed the right wing over at Newsmax howling that "Obama Erases Pro-Democracy Money for Iran."

That's been out for two days now.

And, ahem, people who run around defending the Iranian regime really don't have the moral high ground to go babbling about "censored forums." It's a censored country, for heaven's sake.

I haven't even censored you. But the guy you're defending would cut off both your hands if you questioned him!

 

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About Al Giordano

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Publisher, Narco News.

Reporting on the United States at The Field.

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