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ITF denounces Iran’s threat of death penalty in truck strike

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) has condemned in the strongest of terms a reported call by an Iranian court for the issuing of the death penalty against 17 activists involved in a widespread truckers’ strike.

“The death penalty for striking is the most serious of violations of workers’ rights, it’s inhumane and unthinkable”, said ITF general secretary Stephen Cotton. “From what we understand, Iran’s truckers took action as a last resort in the struggle to feed their families. The threat of the death penalty is utterly disproportionate.

“ITF affiliates globally are urging the Iranian government to listen to their truckers’ demands. It is economic solutions that are needed. Not threats of executions,” he added.

Mr Cotton has approached the International Labour Organization (ILO), of which Iran is a founder and governing body member, and asked the UN agency to intervene.

The ITF raised concerns last week (http://www.itfglobal.org/en/news-events/press-releases/2018/october/itf-statement-on-iran-truckers-strike/) about the treatment of self-organised truck workers taking industrial action after 150 truckers were arrested and members of the judiciary made threats to issue the death penalty. Since then the number of reported arrests has risen to over 200.

Then, on 8 October the state-run IRNA news agency reported that a court in Qazvin province had requested possible death sentences for 17 of those who took action.

Iran’s truckers have seen their wages and standard of living decline steadily over the last two decades. Their job security has been under attack, thousands have had their pay delayed for months and all are suffering from extreme inflation.

Since September 22 2018, in an effort to raise awareness of their plight, almost half a million truck drivers have been participating in actions across 290 cities in 31 states. The truck drivers have been urging their government to address their grievances over poverty earnings - and to be allowed to have a voice in decisions affecting their livelihoods.

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