Why striking bus drivers in Tehran are the real defenders of Muslim rights

by Nick Cohen

from The Guardian

For three weeks, there have been demonstrations across the planet about a great injustice done to Muslims. After baton-wielding cops inflicted dozens of injuries, the fear of death is in the air. George W Bush's State Department has warned of 'systematic oppression', while secularists and fundamentalists have revealed their mutually incompatible values. Since you ask, I am not talking about the global menace of Scandinavian cartoonists that has so terrified our fearless free press, but mass arrests in Iran.

The media have barely mentioned the story, even though it cuts through the nonsense about a clash of civilisations between the 'West' and the 'Muslims'. The Muslims of Tehran are proving themselves to be anything but a monolithic bloc happy to follow the orders of the ayatollahs and their demented President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. There are huge class divisions to begin with, and close to the bottom of the heap are the city's bus drivers. The authorities refused to allow them an independent trade union and ruled that an 'Islamic council' in the offices of the Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company would represent their interests. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the pious have not proved the doughtiest fighters for better pay and conditions. The bus drivers claimed that managers were stealing money from their pay packets. They formed their own union and threatened to strike at the end of January.

Ahmadinejad won the rigged Iranian elections last year with a promise to stand up for the little man against the Islamic Republic's corrupt elite. Faced with a choice between sticking to his word and carrying on with despotism, he showed his true colours by allowing the most ferocious crackdown Tehran has seen since the religious authorities crushed dissident journalists and students in 1999.

Radicals at Work: Young Labor Activists Building Power from Below

A forum hosted by the Rank and File Youth Project and the Starbucks Workers Union.

Young activists are taking jobs in targeted workplaces (transit,
telecommunications, public schools, and retail) to organize.
These inside organizers are building a stronger labor movement from the bottom up; fighting for stronger, more democratic unions;
challenging racism, sexism, and homophobia on the job; and beating back the corporate assault on working people.
Come hear their stories and find out how you can become an inside organizer.

When? Saturday, February 18th, 7:00 PM

Where? Bluestockings, 172 Allen St. (at Stanton St.; F train to 2nd Avenue)

What is the RANK AND file Youth Project? We are a network of young activists and workers organizing to promote a grassroots perspective on radical labor activism. We help young activists find union jobs, connect them with experienced rank-and-file union activists, and serve as a support network for these inside organizers. For more
information, email

What is the Starbucks Workers Union? We are Starbucks workers
organizing for better wages and raises, guaranteed hours, an end to understaffing, and a healthier and safer workplace. Visit for more information about the campaign.


The Way They See It

Frustrated by Low Wages, Starbucks Employees Sow Union Seeds

John Davisson, Columbia Spectator

As if ordering a cup of coffee wasn’t complicated enough these days, things could get even muckier if federal labor law weighs in.

Since 2004, a group of baristas known as the Starbucks Workers Union has sought collective bargaining rights for the chain’s employees citywide, citing a need for improved pay and healthier working conditions.

While SWU has been unable to gain recognition from Starbucks or the National Labor Relations Board, the federal body that mediates labor disputes in the private sector, members are hoping that a recent wave of unfair labor allegations against the company might reverse its fortunes.

“Never before has such a fundamental anti-union and anti-worker company been so successful at creating a socially responsible image,” said David Gross, an SWU organizer and Starbucks barista. “They’ve embraced the Wal-Mart style of union-busting.”

After petitioning the NLRB in Nov. 2005, the group won a hearing at the board’s New York Regional Office, during which an administrative law judge was to review charges of illegal labor practices at several of the chain’s outlets. Members allege that Starbucks supervisors have
threatened or terminated baristas who took part in pro-union activities, both of which are illegal under the National Labor Relations Act. Originally scheduled for Tuesday, the hearing was pushed back to March 6, pending a review of several new accusations.

Anonymous Comrade writes:

Even Without a Union, Florida Wal-Mart Workers Use Collective Action to Enforce Rights
Nick Robinson, Labor NotesWorkers at Wal-Mart and other big-box retail chains—like workers in any mostly nonunion industry with low pay and tense, dreary working conditions—are generally a disgruntled lot. In central Florida, Wal-Mart workers are fighting and sometimes winning campaigns using collective action to solve both shop floor and larger industry-wide problems.

Workplace Position Paper

North East Federation of Anarcho-Communists (NEFAC)


As anarchist-communists, we want a radical reorganization of
the workplace. We want workplaces that are run by directly democratic
federated workers' and community-based councils. We want the highest
decision-making body to be general assemblies of workers held on the shop
floor and in the communities where they live. We want to abolish the wage
system, end the alienation and division of labor, and usher in a new
society of libertarian communism.


Jay Driskell writes:

Support Striking Teaching Assistants at New York University

Online Petition in Support of Striking TAs at NYU

List-Subscribe: here,

E-mail: here, Subject=subscribe

Please Forward Widely....

Hey all,

A quick report on the labor rally at NYU from Friday. The turnout was quite
good on short notice — well over 1500 folks from dozens of unions. The most
significant in attendance were Ron Gettelfinger, the president of the UAW, John
Wilhelm, the president of the hospitality division of UNITE HERE, John Sweeney —
the president of the AFL-CIO, and several city council members — all of whom
promised to do everything in their power to help GSOC win.

The President of
the Professional Staff Congress (PSC) at CUNY, Barbara Bowen, also spoke to the
importance of this fight, not only for the future of intellectual labor, but
also for the labor movement as a whole. "Winning this fight today is as
important as the air traffic controllers strike was early in Reagan's first
term," she said. A representative from the Teamsters promised to do everything
he could to back the strike.

Argentine Self Management

Michael Albert

This October I spent a week in Buenos Aires, Argentina learning about Argentina's workers movement to recuperate factories.

During the recent corporate globalization inspired economic downturns in Argentina, workers confronted disaster when their capitalist workplaces often went bankrupt. To preserve
income and avoid possible starvation, workers in failing plants in certain cases decided to recuperate their workplaces back into viable businesses despite the capitalist owner being unable to make a go of it.

Ignoring state opposition, aggressive competition, old equipment, and failed demand, workers in these instances took over roughly a hundred and ninety plants over the past five years. In each occupied workplace, we were told during our visit, not only did the capitalist owner leave the
operation, so too did prior professional and conceptual employees including managers and engineers. Where the privileged employees felt their prospects would be better served if they looked elsewhere rather than clinging to a failing operation, the unskilled and rote workers had to
recuperate their failing workplace or suffer unemployment. Thus to date the Argentine occupations, we were told by a highly conscious organizer in the movement, "have not been acts of ideology or followed a revolutionary plan." They have been, instead, "acts of desperate self defense." Yet most interestingly, provocatively, and inspirationally, after taking over a company, which usually required a struggle of many months to overcome political resistance from the state, and after then running the plants for a time, the recuperation projects have become increasingly


World's First Starbucks Strike Spreads to 10 Stores

Workers from stores across Auckland walked off the job today to join the world’s first Starbucks strike, held on Auckland’s counter-culture café strip, Karangahape Rd, New Zealand.

What began as a small protest by workers from one store became a
city-wide strike when Starbucks workers heard that managers would be brought in to cover the shifts of the striking K’Rd workers.

"What began as an event to highlight the poor conditions of low pay and minimum wage workers turned into a show of solidarity and strength between Auckland’s Starbucks workers," said Simon Oosterman, SuperSizeMyPay.Com campaign coordinator.

Rethinking Worlds of Labour: Southern African labour history in international context

A conference from Friday 28th to Monday 31st July 2006, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Organised by the History Workshop and the Sociology of Work Unit, at the University of the Witwatersrand.

Scholars of labour are invited to the upcoming "Rethinking Worlds of Labour: Southern African labour history in international context" conference, to be held in Johannesburg, South Africa, from the 28th to the 31st July 2006.

The aims of the conference are to
1. Promote a transnational and regional view of labour history, with reference to southern Africa, and to comparisons of the less developed and semi-peripheral regions of the global "South"
2. To reflect on the implications of the "first" globalisation of the 1870s to the 1930s for the "second" globalisation that started in the 1970s
3. To foster collaborative work between scholars, particularly those based in Africa, Asia and Latin America

International perspectives

Although the southern African region is a core area of interest, the conference organisers welcome papers on aspects labour history in other regions that lend themselves to comparative and transnational analyses. Scholars from other regions of the global "South" are therefore especially welcomed.

It is anticipated that the conference will provide the basis for new and collaborative work on comparative and regional labour history, and the panels will be structured to draw together different themes in a stimulating manner.

With best wishes

The organising committee

Peter Alexander, Andries Bezuidenhout, Phil Bonner, Jon Hyslop, Noor Nieftagodien, Nicole Ulrich, and Lucien van der Walt.

Do not hesitate to contact us with any queries.

Click for the online conference web page.

The following analysis was originally published in Red and Black Revolution, produced by the Workers Solidarity Movement in Ireland.

The Nomad, the Displaced and the Settler Work in the 21st

In many countries there has been a debate as to the nature of the
changes in western workplaces; in Britain they talk about increased
casualisation of the workforce, in the US they talk about contingent
labour and on the European continent they use the language of
precarity. Central to in all these debates is the issue of job

A number of issues are being discussed. Firstly has the workplace
changed fundamentally such that people increasingly are in temporary
work rather than permanent work? Secondly is the division between
work time and non-work time dissolving, are we spending more of our
lives 'in work'? Thirdly are the non-work aspects of life becoming
increasingly insecure?

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