Labor Rights and the Democracy Movement in Iran: Building a Social Democracy

Nomani, Farhad, Behdad, Sohrab | January 1, 2012

Since the early days of the twentieth century, the Iranian working class has suffered the consequences of an undemocratic, repressive capitalist state. With the large and growing size of the Iranian working class, no viable and sustainable democratization process can take shape without independent labor organizations and without the working class’s participation in the political arena. In the post-presidential election protest of 2009, one of the critical weaknesses of the Green Movement in its quest for democracy was that the working class was not massively and distinctly present among the middle-class women, men, and youth. Nevertheless, in the current struggle for democratization in Iran, the working class is becoming acutely aware of its important role as a social force in shaping the balance of class power. This article underscores some of the obstacles facing the Iranian working class in its struggle to attain basic rightsincluding the right to form independent organizationsand to protect and promote socioeconomic and political rights within the Islamic Republic.