به شبكه اطلاع‌رساني كارفرمايان ايران خوش آمديد!
:Committee on Freedom of Association Report

Complaint against the Goverment of Islamic Republic of Iran

Presented by: the International Organisation of Employers
Thursday 10 July 2008 by Committee on Freedom of Association

Allegations: The complainant organization alleges government interference in the elections of the Iran Confederation of Employers’ Associations (ICEA), the subsequent dissolution of the ICEA by administrative authority and the official backing of a new and parallel employers’ confederation

Report No. 350 (Vol. XCI, 2008, Series B, No. 2) Interim Report

The complainant organization alleges government interference in the elections of the Iran Confederation of Employers’ Associations (ICEA), the subsequent dissolution of the ICEA by administrative authority and the official backing of a new and parallel employers’ confederation

1108. The complaint is contained in a communication dated 24 May 2007. The complainant organization transmitted additional information in support of the complaint in a communication of 19 May 2008.

1109. The Government provided its observations in communications dated 19 and 20 March 2008.

1110. The Islamic Republic of Iran has not ratified either the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 (No. 87), or the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949 (No. 98).

A. The complainant’s allegations

1111. In its communication of 24 May 2007, the complainant states that on 1 November 2006 the ICEA held an extraordinary General Assembly meeting at the Negin complex in Tehran in order, among other things, to submit its activities report to its members and to elect a new Board of Directors and Inspectors. Representatives of affiliated federations and associations attended the meeting, as well as more than ten representatives from the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs (MLSA). The latter included the Director and Deputy Director of the Ministry’s Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations Department, members of the Security Department (“HERASAT”), and members of the Public Relations Department. The complainant indicates that under national law, it is mandatory for the ICEA to invite representatives of the MLSA to the meeting as observers; it maintains that this requirement violates freedom of association principles. Attached to the complaint is a copy of articles 19 and 20 of the Code of Practice (Regulations) for the quality of formation, limits of duties, authorities and quality of performance of guilds and respective centres, the subject of article 131 of the Labour Law, approved on 27 December 1992 by the Cabinet Ministers. The articles are as follows:

Article 19. The registration of the guilds, the subject of this Code of Practice and monitoring the elections and their activities are undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. In case the General Office of Workers and Employers Organizations of the mentioned Ministry considers the activities of a guild or one of the members of the Board of Directors [to be] in conflict with the regulations and rules, it may refer the issue for decision taking on the basis of the case to the Board of Dispute Settlement or the competent court.

Article 20. All guilds and related centers are obliged to announce the date of the formation of their general assemblies at least fifteen days prior to the formation of them without inclusion of the holidays in a written form to the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

1112. ICEA President Mr Mohammad Otaredian opened the sitting with some introductory remarks. The sitting proceeded with the election of the officers of the meeting (a Chairperson, two observers and a secretary), followed by the submission of the ICEA’s activities report. Before turning to the election of a new Board of Directors and Inspectors, the sitting was disrupted by representatives of the MLSA, who approached the podium where the officers of the meeting were seated and announced that those federations and associations in arrears in their payment of ICEA dues and those whose registration processes as ICEA members were incomplete were not entitled to vote. This announcement led to many objections and protests by member federations, resulting in a tense atmosphere. However, in order to enable the sitting to continue, those federations and associations considered by the representatives of the MLSA as not entitled to vote were not taken into account when calculating the quorum.

1113. Following growing objections, and in order to provide those federations excluded by the representatives of the MLSA with an opportunity to participate in the election of the new Board of Directors and Inspectors, the General Assembly decided to suspend the election and to extend the mandate of the existing Board of Directors and Inspectors for a period of six months, until the next elections were held. During the adoption of this decision the representatives of the MLSA repeatedly intervened; the sitting closed at 8 p.m. the same day in conditions of chaos.

1114. On 2 November 2006, the ICEA sent a letter to the Labour Minister, informing him of the decision adopted by the General Assembly and requesting a meeting with him. The minutes of the meeting were attached to the letter. The ICEA received a letter dated 2 November 2006 from the MLSA, signed by the Director-General of the Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations Department, informing it of its dissolution and of the illegality of the continuation of its activities.

1115. On 4 November 2006, and in response to the Ministry’s letter, the ICEA sent a letter to the Labour Minister calling his attention to the fact that the dissolution of the ICEA was, according to the regulations concerned, only enforceable through a judicial decision. Additionally the ICEA again requested a meeting with the Minister of Labour in order to hold discussions on the matter. It did not receive a response in this regard.

1116. On 12 November 2006, the ICEA filed a complaint against the MLSA with the Administrative Justice Court, requesting the annulment of the Ministry’s dissolution order. On 17 January 2007, the Court found that the dissolution of ICEA was only enforceable through a competent court and declared a provisional injunction against the Ministry’s decision to dissolve the ICEA. However, the MLSA refused to accept the Court’s decision and challenged it by holding press conferences.

1117. In December 2006 a new employers’ confederation, entitled the Iranian Confederation of Employers (ICE), assembled and supported by the MLSA, was registered. The complainant indicates in respect of the latter that the MLSA had paid the ICE an amount equal to $20,000. An ICE General Assembly meeting was held in a government building – the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) building – with high security, preventing the entry of any representatives of employers’ associations except those invited by the MLSA. Approximately 60 persons attended the meeting. The complainant states that the name of the new confederation is similar to the ICEA’s, and is occasionally referred to as the “new ICEA”, which could lead to some confusion. The complainant also indicates that the new confederation has been registered with the MLSA under registration number 500, which is the same registration number as that of the ICEA.

1118. In January 2007, the MLSA filed a complaint against ICEA President Mohammad Otaredian with the Public Prosecutor’s Office, alleging distortion of the truth, apprehension of public opinion and abuse of the signature of the ICEA President. On 14 February 2007 the Office issued an order clearing Mr Mohammad Otaredian of all the charges.

1119. On 5 March 2007, the ICEA held a General Assembly meeting attended by more than 84 per cent of the members entitled to vote. The ICEA informed the MLSA of the meeting and invited the MLSA to attend. No MLSA representatives attended the meeting; however, the Ministry of Justice, which was also invited to the meeting, did send representatives. A new Board of Directors and Inspectors was designated at the General Assembly meeting, the minutes of which were signed and confirmed by the representatives of the Ministry of Justice.

1120. In March 2007, the ICEA officially filed a complaint with the judicial authority against the MLSA and the newly founded ICE requesting, as a provisional measure, that the latter group desist in its activities.

1121. Several documents are attached to the complaint, including: (1) translated copies of the ICEA’s letters to the MLSA, dated 2 and 4 November 2006 respectively; (2) a translated copy of the Government’s 2 November 2006 letter informing the ICEA of its dissolution; (3) a translated excerpt of the Administrative Justice Court’s decision of 17 January 2007 concerning the ICEA’s dissolution; (4) a translated excerpt of the Public Prosecutor’s 14 February 2007 decision clearing Mr Otaredian of the charges brought by the MLSA; (5) an 18 April 2007 news article on the High Administrative Court’s decision regarding the ICEA’s dissolution. The news article quotes the Minister of Labour as stating that the ICEA had been dissolved on the basis of its statutes, that a new confederation had been formed, and that it is of high priority that the majority of employer organizations join it. The Minister is also quoted as stating that the Court’s decision is not in line with the reinstatement of the ICEA’s Board of Directors and that if the ICEA claims that it is legal, it must obtain a verdict for the dissolution of the new ICEA.

1122. In its communication of 19 May 2008, the complainant indicates that the ICEA has filed a petition with the Administrative Justice Court appealing the 2 March 2008 decision of the Administrative Justice Court’s Appellate Branch – which annulled the Court’s 17 January judgement and nullified the provisional order against the MLSA’s dissolution of the ICEA. In its petition, the ICEA requests that the case be referred to the Ultimate Appeals Branch of the Administrative Justice Court, and bases its appeal on the following grounds:

– The 2 March 2008 judgement was issued in contravention of article 19 of the Regulations on Establishing Workers’ and Employers’ Associations, under which the Dispute Settlement Boards or the competent courts have exclusive authority as regards the dissolution of associations.

– The MLSA has, on the one hand, issued instructions for the dissolution of the ICEA and, on the other hand, established an employers’ confederation, in violation of articles 42 and 43 of the Confederation’s statutes.

– Despite the fact that the Extraordinary Meeting of the Ordinary General Assembly of the ICEA was convened prior to the expiry of the six-month period, and that the organization’s members voted to retain the existing board members to avoid dissolution, officials from the MLSA objected to this on the ground that the elections were held through open voting and ordered the ICEA’s dissolution. Assuming the election regulations had not been observed, the MLSA should have demanded observance of the election formalities without ordering dissolution.

– The MLSA’s dissolution order contravenes articles 130 and 131 of the Labour Code, as well as article 19 of the Labour Code’s executive regulations.

– The grounds invoked in the first paragraph of the 2 March 2008 decision lack legal justification, as the MLSA had unilaterally ordered the ICEA’s dissolution instead of confining itself to raising the issue of the observance of election formalities.

– According to the Regulations on the Establishment and Conduct of Professional Organizations, the vote to retain existing board members constitutes a new election, held by the Extraordinary Meeting of the Ordinary General Assembly before the expiry of the six-month period.

B. The Government’s reply

1123. In its communication of 19 March 2008, the Government states that freedom of association rights are reflected in the country’s Constitution, in particular article 26, which provides that “political parties, trade unions and Islamic societies or recognized religious minorities are free in the exercise of their doctrines provided that in conducting their exercises the fundamental principles of independence and integrity of the State, freedom, national unity, Islamic principles and conducts and the very foundation of the Islamic Republic of Iran may not be infringed upon. It is further reiterated that no subject of the State may be coerced into joining or denied of the free selection of the organizations of their choosing.” Other national laws and regulations, such as the five-year development plans and the Labour Law, provide for the freedom of workers and employers to freely establish their organizations at the provincial and national levels to protect their legitimate and legal rights and interests. Having due respect for the promotion of the principle of freedom of association, and being committed to the protection of the social partners’ interests, the Government has adopted a coherent policy to assist the social partners that includes their registration and the observance of their elections. Additionally, serious measures have been taken by the MLSA for the further promotion of freedom of association rights, particularly those of the employers, throughout the Islamic Republic of Iran over the last two years and the observation of their rights has been coherently integrated into the strategic objectives of the MLSA.

1124. The Government indicates that the present complaint is based on good intentions, misunderstandings, and partially incorrect information received from the complainant. According to article 19 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures addressing the foundation process, capacities and liabilities and functioning of trade unions, the inspection of the election of trade unions and confederations is entrusted to the MLSA. The main reason for the non-recognition of the ICEA General Assembly’s election of 1 November 2006 is the continuous disregard and negligence of the ICEA’s Board of Directors in the implementation of their duties; the justifications for such negligence had been openly pronounced in different communications by the former Secretary-General of the Board of Directors of ICEA. According to the ICEA’s announcement, the agenda of its 1 November 2006 meeting was to submit its activities report to its members and to elect the new Board of Directors and Inspectors. Being obliged to adhere to the meeting’s agenda, ICEA office–holders could not contravene the provisions of the articles of the ICEA’s Constitution, which does not in any manner allow for the extension of the tenure of the Board of Directors after an earlier six months’ extension. This conspicuous breach of the agenda and the ICEA Constitution was brought to the attention of the Assembly by the inspectors of the MLSA, in accordance with their duties.

1125. Only two representatives from the MLSA – and not the figure provided by the ICEA – attended the General Assembly meeting at the invitation of the ICEA’s Secretary-General and the Board of Directors. The observers’ task was to ensure the credibility of the credentials, as well as the observance of the provisions of the ICEA Constitution and other laws and regulations concerning the proper administration of the General Assembly election. In fact, the ICEA Constitution itself designates the MLSA as the national reference for the recognition of its members.

1126. The Government maintains that paragraph 272 of the Digest, in providing that the founders of an organization are not free from the duty of observing the formalities concerning the publicity or other similar formalities which may be prescribed by law, supports its position that the practice of requiring previous authorization or observing elections does not constitute an obstacle to the establishment of an employers’ organization or amount to the prohibition of its activities. Moreover organizations have the right to recourse to the judiciary in case their request for registration is rejected.

1127. In regards to the alleged disruption of the meeting by ministry representatives, the Government states that by announcing that those federations and associations in arrears in their ICEA dues and those whose registration processes as members of the ICEA were incomplete were not entitled to vote, the inspectors of the MLSA referred to the requirements of the ICEA Constitution, particularly article 38 which provides that:

(i) The electorate shall be permanent principal members of their organization.

(ii) The Board of Directors shall have their credentials validated by the provincial offices of the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

(iii) The organization of respective candidates for the Board of Directors of the ICEA should not have an outstanding debt to the ICEA.

(iv) Both electoral and candidates shall enjoy valid membership status (renounced or suspended members shall not have the right to vote or to be elected).

(v) The focal point for the recognition of the trade or industry of each trade union is the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs.

1128. According to the substantiated document provided by Mr Otaredian in his earlier correspondence to the MLSA, many of the participants failed to meet one or some of the above requirements; according to the ICEA’s Constitution only its official members were eligible to vote, and many of the participants in the General Assembly failed to present their credentials and lacked the legal requirements for participation in the election. The ministry inspectors were therefore acting – in accordance with article 38(2) of the ICEA Constitution, which recognizes the MLSA as the authority for the confirmation of the membership of the electorate and the candidates – to ensure the legitimacy of the members’ credentials and the due observance of the ICEA Constitution. The Government further states that Mr Otaredian himself was ineligible to be elected under article 38(2) of the ICEA Constitution: due to his resignation from the Federation of Construction Contractors’ Organizations he had lost his ICEA membership and had consequently lost his credentials to either vote or to be elected. Other members of the Board of Directors were also ineligible for the renewal of their mandate, as they had failed to or refrained from presenting their organization affiliation documents at the November 2006 election.

1129. The Government indicates that the disruption of the 1 November election of the ICEA was not due to the interventions by the ministry inspectors but rather to the negative attitude of Mr Otaredian and the Board of Directors. No complaint was lodged by other members of the provincial federations and individual representatives attending the November General Assembly meeting, whereas the Ministry has received numerous complaints concerning the apparent violation of the provisions of the ICEA’s Constitution. The Government attaches copies of letters sent to the MLSA by several employers’ associations, including the Associations of Mobile Telephones, Audio-Visual Equipment, and Gold and Silver Shopkeepers; the Construction Companies Association; the Employers’ Associations of the Flour Industry; the Iranian Textile Industry Association; and the Iranian Automobile Industry Association. The letters concern an ICEA General Assembly held on 24 October 2006, and refer generally to procedural irregularities and “chaos” that had occurred over the course of the meeting; one letter states that elections failed to take place, even though the quorum had been met.

1130. According to the written statement of the provincial federations, the disruption was due to the unconventional and irrational procedures adopted by the then Secretary-General and his insistence on the renewal of his term at any cost. The minutes of the 1 November 2006 meeting clearly indicate that the meeting had not gone very smoothly, and many of the participants raised objections as to the manner and modalities of the renewal of the Board of Directors’ mandate. The Government attaches copies of letters sent to the MLSA by several employers’ associations, including the Employers’ Association Federations of the provinces of Guilan, Quazvin and Fars. The letters refer to disturbances that had occurred at the 1 November 2006 ICEA General Assembly and request the MLSA’s assistance in calling for new ICEA elections.

1131. As concerns the complainant’s allegation that those federations and associations considered by the representatives of the MLSA as not entitled to vote were not taken into account when calculating the quorum, the Government states that the two ministry inspectors, in compliance with the ICEA Constitution, did not recognize the legitimacy of the members who failed to present substantiated evidence of their membership. The said members furthermore had failed to present any valid documentation of their official registration in the General Assembly. Also, the memberships of many participants to the Assembly had already expired and they therefore could not cast their votes. To address the membership problems of the federations and associations that did not meet the electoral requirements, meetings were held between Mr Otaredian and MLSA officials, including the Minister himself. Trying to seek some solutions to the above problems, in a letter addressed to the Minister of Labour, Mr Otaredian stated his intention to hold the General Assembly meeting in November. He further advised the Minister that the Deputy Minister of Industrial Relations and the Director-General of the Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations Department had stated their readiness to spare whatever cooperation necessary to ease the holding of the General Assembly. In the same letter, he made specific references to the existing problems, which he had found to be against the corresponding rules and provisions of the Labour Law and the ICEA Constitution. He acknowledged that many member federations had apparently failed to hold their elections in due course, and accordingly could not participate in the 1 November 2006 election. Recalling that the ICEA had only a six-month deadline to hold the election before the expiry of its term and the consequent automatic and legal dissolution of the confederation, he further requested the Minister to exercise his power to extend the mandate of the ICEA Secretary-General and Board of Directors for another six months; he also reiterated the need for the Minister to exceptionally but unlawfully approve of the proposal to hold the ICEA election without requiring the electorate to submit legitimate and valid credentials approved by relevant authorities in different provinces as required by article 38 of the ICEA Constitution.

1132. In the same letter, Mr Otaredian acknowledged that the Minister had the right to dissolve confederations, but added that it would be a pity for the employers’ federations concerned to be deprived of their membership because of their negligence in fulfilling the requirements of the ICEA Constitution. According to the Government, Mr Otaredian’s letter duly admits to the negligence of the confederation’s senior officers, who, despite their cognisance of the problems, failed to use the available six-month period upon the expiry of their office term to settle the long-standing problems of their members throughout the country. Expounding on the reasons for failing to rectify the long-standing problems of ICEA members, Mr Otaredian stated that the Ministry of Labour had not insisted on the implementation of the relevant regulations in the past and accordingly the ICEA did not feel obliged to comply with them. Finally, he called for the Minister to intervene by removing any obstacles to the ICEA’s holding of elections. In his letter, Mr Otaredian failed to mention that the problems of the ICEA members related to long-outstanding debts, the non-remittance of membership fees, cash transfers and property liquidation. The Government attaches a copy of Mr Otaredian’s letter.

1133. The Government states that the ICEA placed advertisements in different papers and invited members to participate in its 1 November 2006 General Assembly even though it was aware that many of the participants had long-standing membership and credential problems, in violation of its own Constitution. This act was challenged by many ICEA members, including members of the Board and colleagues of Mr Otaredian. MLSA inspectors reminded the executive committee of the General Assembly of the need to observe articles 17 and 38 of the Constitution, which call for the preparation of a list of all participants in the ICEA election and the provision of separate lists, including the Board members of each industry and trade, to help inspectors identify authorized members. Such procedural practice was not put into force because of the former Secretary-General’s intervention. As article 28 of the ICEA Constitution and the provisions of the Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions, approved by the Council of Ministers, do not allow for another six-month extension of the Board’s mandate, the request by unrecognized and excluded representatives of the General Assembly to call for the extension of the mandate of the existing Board of Directors for another six months was found to be inadmissible and unlawful. Furthermore, article 27 of the ICEA Constitution clearly calls for secret balloting rather than voting by raising hands. Meanwhile, the MLSA has extended the utmost collaboration by accepting the earlier request for the extension of the Board of Directors for another six months; according to the articles of its own Constitution, the ICEA would have automatically dissolved upon the termination of this extension.

1134. To enforce the law and safeguard freedom of association principles and the legitimate rights of employers’ associations, government inspectors had to question the dependability and legitimacy of the General Assembly election. The ICEA Board of Directors and the former Secretary-General had failed to implement the following laws and regulations:

Article 11 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions, subject to article 131 of the Labour Law. According to note 5 of article 11, the boards of directors of organizations are required to call a general assembly at least three months prior to the termination of their tenure.

Article 14 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions.

– Note 2 of article 131 of the Labour Law, which calls for the issuance of notices for the holding of a general assembly and a new election two months before the termination of the tenure of the Board of Directors.

– provisions of the ICEA Constitution which require that: (1) a General Assembly and a new election be held, with the participation of one third of the members, four months before the conclusion of their tenure at the latest; and (2) a public pronouncement of the organization’s dissolution be communicated to the MLSA and other respective bodies, six months from the expiry of the Board’s mandate at the latest.

1135. The Government indicates that Mr Otaredian, having resigned from his position in the ICEA and the Construction Companies Association (CCA), was ineligible to take part in the ICEA Board of Directors’ election. Approving the extension of the Board of Directors’ term of office for another six months would therefore be considered a clear infringement of the provisions of the ICEA Constitution. In having lodged an official complaint with the judicial authorities against the MLSA and advised the Minister of Labour of his legal action, Mr Otaredian seems to have chosen to stay on the warpath against the Ministry. As the case was before the court and Mr Otaredian did not intend to withdraw his complaint, the Government indicates that it has decided to abide by the court ruling. (The Government attaches a copy of a 27 July 2004 letter from the CCA informing the MLSA of Mr Otaredian’s resignation from its Board, as well as a translated copy of Mr Otaredian’s letter of resignation from the CCA.)

1136. As concerns the allegation that it had sent a letter to the ICEA informing it of its dissolution, the Government states that under national law the authorities may not dissolve workers’ or employers’ organizations. Article 19 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions on 3 February 1992, and circulated through Circulation No. E/513T/52251, states that pronouncing the dissolution of trade unions falls exclusively within the mandate of the judiciary. The MLSA letter No. 96700, dated 2 November 2006 and addressed to the ICEA, does not refer to the dissolution of the ICEA; in that letter the MLSA only notified the ICEA that in case they did not manage to hold an election before the deadline, the mandate of the current Board of Directors would expire and consequently the ICEA would automatically be dissolved. As a result of the misinterpretation and misunderstanding as to the contents of the letter, Mr Otaredian had started a propaganda campaign against the MLSA instead of using existing avenues to find an amicable solution to the problem.

1137. The Director-General of the Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations Department of the MLSA, in his letter No. 108028 dated 27 November 2006 and addressed to Mr Otaredian, pointed out that, according to the report of the inspectors, the election session of the ICEA appeared to have failed to meet the legal requirements stipulated in the articles of its Constitution and the respective national laws and regulations and reminded him that due to the expiry of the mandate of the ICEA Board of Directors, the Board and its decisions were not legally valid. He further noted that his department would fulfil its duties under article 19 of the Ministerial Rules and Procedures. Under its Constitution, the ICEA can provide for its dissolution if, according to paragraph 3 of article 42, the extraordinary General Assembly meeting adopts such a decision, or if the termination of the mandate of the previous Board of Directors automatically dissolves it. The dissolution of the ICEA occurred for the latter reason. In accordance with article 19 of the Ministerial Rules and Procedures, the MLSA referred the matter to the competent judicial authority to issue a decision on the situation of the ICEA. A translated copy of the 27 November 2006 MLSA letter is attached.

1138. As concerns the 17 January 2007 court decision regarding the ICEA’s dissolution, the Court elaborated on the accepted and legal requirements of dissolution; the MLSA respects and accepts the court decision. All subjects and entities are entitled to recourse to the judicial authorities, including the High Administrative Court and the National Supreme Court as regards government decisions. The decisions made by judicial authorities are fully respected and binding for all government officials, even if they overturn the decisions made by high executive officials; there have been several cases where decisions made by tripartite bodies such as dispute settlement boards, compromise boards or boards of inquiry overturned the decisions of government officials and in which the referral of the case to higher judicial authorities had finally settled the issue. This holds true for workers’ and employers’ associations and they can freely object to the decisions of the Government. Respecting the decisions of the said authorities by all, including government officials, indicates that in the legal and judicial system of the Islamic Republic of Iran no rights are violated. The results of a survey on the number of government decisions overturned by the High Administrative Court showed that of 19 complaints lodged against the decisions of the dispute settlement board or other labour relations authorities, nine decisions were confirmed, five overturned and five again referred to the dispute settlement board for re-examination. Moreover, out of 12 complaints received by the High Administrative Court against the harmful effects of MLSA circulations, eight decisions annulled the said circulations, three confirmed them and one case was referred to the dispute settlement board for legal adjustment, thus demonstrating the observance of the rights of workers’ and employers’ associations in the Islamic Republic of Iran.

1139. The Government states that the MLSA, in its press statement on the decision of the High Administrative Court, emphasized that it was not responsible for the ICEA’s dissolution and that the ICE legally came into existence by a founding board of employers through democratic elections and was subsequently registered at their request months before any decision was made by the court. As the ICE had already gone through its formation process at the time the Court’s decision was handed down, the latter was not enforceable. In its statement, the MLSA also indicated that the court decision does not ensure the survival of the ICEA as the decision is not final, and therefore not binding. The MLSA also pointed out that it never sought to confront the court decision; thus the allegation that the MLSA refused to accept the court decision and challenged it by holding press conferences is unfounded. The MLSA officials’ press conferences were solely meant to frustrate the attempts made by the then Secretary-General of the ICEA to spread propaganda against the Ministry and tarnish its image before the public. The Government attaches a copy of the press statement and a copy of a letter addressed to the MLSA, apparently from the ICE, indicating that the employers’ associations had re-established a confederation following the ICEA’s dissolution.

1140. As concerns the allegation of support provided by the MLSA to the ICE, the Government indicates that recognizing two employers’ confederations simultaneously is prohibited under Chapter VI of the Labour Law and parallel organizations cannot be identified as bargaining agents for collective bargaining purposes. Pursuant to the Labour Law, only one integrated employers’ confederation can represent employers in national and international forums. As the ICEA was about to be dissolved, and following numerous objections presented by member associations to the ICEA’s 1 November 2006 election and at the request of many employers to hold a new election, the MLSA agreed to register the ICE, which is by no means contrary to the provisions of Convention No. 87.

1141. The Government indicates that the ICEA Secretary-General’s hesitation to hold an election, his consequent failure in the election and his pushing the ICEA towards dissolution are the main motivations behind the decision by employers’ organizations to establish a new confederation. Retaining its impartiality in the establishment of the new confederation, the MLSA simply fulfilled its mandate to certify their elections and register the ICE. Moreover, under the principle of representativity it was not possible to ignore 1,170 members of 228 provincial and national employers’ associations seeking to further their associations’ interests legally, unlike a few members of the ICEA, and deprive them of their legitimate right to make decisions on national economic issues. From this perspective, the Government’s approach may be considered as aiming to prevent dissolution; the Government’s measure was intended to foster a free atmosphere respecting principles of freedom of association principles and the right to recourse to an independent and impartial judicial authority and lodge a complaint. The Government adds that the ICE is not an entirely new entity, but the same organization (the ICEA) with a newly elected Board of Directors. Many of these members are well known and trusted in the Office as well as the IOE; in fact they were the real engineers of Iran’s membership to the IOE during the 285th Session of the ILO Governing Body and have long records of attending International Labour Conferences. Therefore, they constitute a well-known and credible group of Iranian employers, both nationally and internationally. Given the fact that the majority of the ICEA’s initial founders and participants in the 1 November 2006 election are now members of the ICE, and the unity created through multiplicity, and that the current composition of the ICE is not different from that of the ICEA, the Government had no other choice but to register it. It is clear that, according to the provision of Convention No. 87, the matter of the dispute between organizations could be taken to judicial authorities. The Government’s registration of the ICE should not be considered as an attempt to create parallel organizations. In fact, the ICE’s founders are defending their professional interests with the same principles and values with which they joined the IOE. The ICE had explained the current dispute to IOE and ILO officials through correspondence and meetings in Tehran and Geneva, and the majority of the employers’ community in the Islamic Republic of Iran has already expressed their willingness to welcome IOE fact-finding missions to visit the Islamic Republic of Iran and get them acquainted with the facts and realities concerning the employers’ associations. Therefore, it can be concluded that the ICE is the natural and logical extension of the ICEA – not a new entity, but the same confederation with new members. The Government attaches a 19 May 2007 letter, from the ICE and addressed to the IOE, in which the ICE informs the latter of its establishment and requests an introductory meeting. The Government also attaches a document, entitled “A brief account of the employers’ guild societies assocation of Iran”, which sets out a summary of the events leading to the ICEA’s dissolution and up to the 17 January 2007 Administrative Justice Court decision to issue a provisional injunction against the MLSA’s dissolution of the ICEA.

1142. The Government contends that the fact that ICE conferences were held in the IRIB International Conference Centre does not amount to an affiliation with the Government. The IRIB Centre is a suitable environment for holding public and open meetings, and hundreds of seminars are held there annually by private and state institutions who rent the space from the IRIB corporation. The Government states that it had no role whatsoever in the ICE’s rental of the IRIB Centre, and the allegation that the ICE’s election – which was public and open – were held under conditions of tight security in the IRIB building is only intended to prove the state dependence of an inclusive employers’ organization. According to statistics received the from Workers’ and Employers’ Organizations Department of the MLSA, on 21 October 2006, the General Assembly was attended by 1,170 members from 64 independent provincial and national employers’ associations, a figure that is unprecedented in the history of employers’ general assemblies. The allegation that the Government prevented other representatives of employers’ associations from participating in the election is false, and the minutes of the proceeding demonstrates that the real number of representatives present was far greater than the number mentioned in the complaint. The Government attaches a copy of a 19 December 2006 contract, between the IRIB International Conference Centre and Mr Davoudabadi of the Iranian Concentrate and Fruit Juice Production Association, for the rental of the centre’s facilities for a 20 December 2006 ICE General Assembly meeting.

1143. The legal title stipulated in the Labour Law for employers’ organization is “Iranian Confederation of Employers’ Associations”, or ICEA, which is not the correct English equivalent of the name the former confederation chose for itself in Farsi. In fact, the term “employers’ association”, which exists in the text of the Labour Law, was changed to “employer” in the Farsi name of the former confederation. The Government states that any confusion concerning the names of the organizations would occur only if both the ICE and the ICEA were acting legally. One of these entities is temporary and to avoid confusion they are referred to with different names; after the final court decision is announced, the MLSA is obliged to annul the registration of the concerned employers’ organization.

1144. As regards the allegation that the ICEA’s registration number was granted to the ICE, the Government states that the infringements by the ICEA’s Board of Directors were so clear that it did not hesitate to register the ICE under the same number. Any sort of hesitation in this regard could harm the practice of tripartism, including meetings of national high councils, and delay the decision-making process to improve employers’ conditions and workers’ wages. The new confederation was registered under number 500 because according to national regulations two employers’ confederations cannot co-exist. Registering under the same number is therefore meant to retain the legal identity of the Islamic Republic Iran’s Confederation of Employers’ Associations and also the unity and legitimacy of the employers’ community.

1145. In respect of the allegation that the MLSA had filed charges against Mr Otaredian for distortion of the truth, apprehension of public opinion and abuse of the signature of the ICEA President, the Government states that the MLSA, through letter No. 49173 dated 13 July 2007, requested the Chief Judge of Branch No. 1018 of the Public Courts of Tehran Province to stop the prosecution of Mr Otaredian and re-examine the actions taken by him to spread false news and present the MLSA’s decisions as against international rules in order to influence public opinion. In one of his press interviews, Mr Otaredian had claimed that, at the 96th Session of the International Labour Conference, the Government enjoyed a conditional voting right; the MLSA mentioned this false claim in its request for an appeal. The Government states that there have been numerous cases of spreading false news in seminars and the media by Mr Otaredian that was not considered as disturbing public order by the court, and the MLSA, while respecting the court’s decisions, believes that such decisions should not be used as a means to advertise his innocence. Since the fairness of the November 2006 election was rejected, the meeting held in 19 March 2007 was basically illegal and invalid. As the supervisory role of the Government over employers’ elections does not amount to interference, no harm was done to their independence or their existence. It is stipulated in the articles of their Constitutions, and is therefore not incompatible with ILO freedom of association principles, which is why the old Board of the ICEA asked the MLSA to send an official to monitor the election in order to deal with any problems arising from disputes among employers. In their March election, an official from the judiciary was also invited to monitor the election. The Government states that this practice has never been a controversial issue inside the country.

1146. According to an ICEA letter addressed to the MLSA, the validity of a noticeable number of employers’ associations present at the election had expired and, consequently, they had lost their voting rights and no authority had confirmed their elections. The ICEA claims that it held a General Assembly meeting attended by more than 84 per cent of its members entitled to vote; however it is not clear which national regulations were used by the ICEA in recognizing the legitimacy of the electorate. Moreover, no authority confirmed the election, the employers present at the said meeting were disunited and whether the required quorum was reached was under dispute. In his reply to a 15 May 2007 letter of the International Relations and Overseas Employment Department of the MLSA concerning the number of member associations and their validity, Mr Hossein Ahmadizadeh, Chairman of the ICEA Board of Directors, stated that the ICEA has 215 members, out of which 132 members were entitled to vote on 5 March 2007 and of this number, 111 were present at the election. The ratio of present members to total number of members is 51.6 per cent and therefore the alleged ratio of 84 per cent is not true. On the other hand, the ICE held its 20 December 2006 election with 288 member associations and 1,170 representatives, which is far greater than the old ICEA in terms of inclusion and representation. The presence of common faces in the election clearly indicates that the ICE enjoys a majority of the employers’ associations of the Islamic Republic Iran. In fact, the ICE’s membership comprises 91 per cent of the employers’ associations, compared to just 9 per cent for the ICEA.

1147. In regards to the ICEA’s legal action against the MLSA and the ICE, the Government states that the case is now under examination and the final decision is still pending. The High Administrative Court’s rejection of the request of Mr Otaredian to annul the ICE’s election, and its referral to the branches where cases are under examination indicates that the legitimacy of the ICE has been confirmed until the final verdict is issued, and until then their presence in the supreme labour council and tripartite councils concerning wage determination and social security is legal and logical.

1148. The Government states that by lodging a complaint with the Committee on Freedom of Association (CFA), the IOE is seeking the CFA’s support to confirm its pre-judgment of the matter at hand. The IOE moreover demonstrates an obvious bias that runs contrary to international norms and the principle of tripartism. The Government has emphatically promoted freedom of association, and to this end the MLSA has taken steps to foster the multiplication of workers’ and employers’ associations. The Government believes that sustainable economic growth will be unattainable unless principles of tripartism and social dialogue are widely practised; one of the main MLSA objectives is to increase the sense of commitment within the workers’ and employers’ communities by encouraging them to establish associations based on elections. Furthermore, it discourages any exclusionary measures and views them as contrary to the objective of civil development. The fact that the number of workers’ associations has doubled over the last two years, and that workers’ and employers’ associations can object to government policies by having recourse to legal channels demonstrates the Government’s observance of freedom of association principles. There are currently approximately 3,837 workers’ associations and 1,451 employers’ associations that freely practise their organizational rights; the number of employers’ associations grew from 1,299 in 2006 to 1,451 in 2007, a 7.92 per cent increase.

1149. The Government indicates that the complainant has provided no evidence of harassment and the grounds on which its allegations were made are still unclear. It considers the current situation to be an internal dispute between two employers’ associations and while sticking to freedom of association principles has made every effort to settle the dispute. The Government expresses its dismay that the IOE remains so concerned about the rights of the ICEA while ignoring the problems faced by the ICE, which is a more inclusive confederation. The Government has never ignored the strong roles played by workers’ and employers’ associations in tripartite consultations and has always facilitated discussions and meetings with parties to disputes, be they worker- or employer-related. Disputing parties have never been afraid of government interference and have freely expressed their ideas and opinions during the aforesaid meetings.

1150. The Government indicates that it has given priority to the amendment of national regulations, including the Labour Law, so as to remove any obstacles to the establishment of more than one workers’ or employers’ organization. It further states that, as depriving other registered associations from its support until the judiciary’s final decision is handed down is not compatible with recognized international labour standards, it could not deny the legitimate rights of the ICE as the biggest employers’ entity.

1151. According to the Government, the complainant has demonstrated a clear bias against the ICE by having refused the latter’s numerous requests to hold a meeting and discuss the matters raised in the present case. Finally, as a gesture of goodwill, the Government invites the ILO to send a technical mission in order to examine the situation of employers’ organizations, free from the Government’s interference.

1152. In its communication of 20 March 2008, the Government transmits a translated copy of a 2 March 2008 decision handed down by the Appellate Branch of the Administrative Justice Court concerning the MLSA’s appeal of the 17 January 2007 decision of the lower Administrative Justice Court. In its decision, the Appellate Court found that the MLSA, in its 2 November 2006 letter addressed to the ICEA, merely indicated the latter’s non-compliance with the articles of its Constitution and did not declare the organization’s dissolution. It further found the extension of the ICEA Board’s term for another six months to be invalid, as the organization’s bylaws made no provision for such an extension, and considered the ICEA to have been dissolved as of 4 November 2006 by virtue of article 42 of its Articles of Association, which provides that the organization shall be dissolved if it fails to elect a new Board of Directors six months from the expiry of the term of the present Board of Directors. On the basis of these findings the Appellate Court overturned the lower court’s decision.

C. The Committee’s conclusions

1153. The Committee notes that the present case concerns allegations of government interference in the elections of the ICEA, the subsequent dissolution of the ICEA by administrative authority and the official backing of a new and parallel employers’ confederation (the ICE).

1154. As regards the matters raised in the present case from the information at its disposal, the Committee notes the following:

– The ICEA convened an extraordinary General Assembly on 1 November 2006 for the purpose, inter alia, of electing a new Board of Directors and Inspectors.

– The representatives of the MLSA present at the meeting disrupted the proceedings by announcing that those ICEA members who were in arrears in their membership dues, or had not completed the membership registration process, were not entitled to vote. This announcement led to many objections and protests by member federations; in order to provide those federations excluded by the representatives of the MLSA with an opportunity to participate in the election of the new Board of Directors and Inspectors, the General Assembly decided to suspend the election and to extend the mandate of the existing Board of Directors and Inspectors for a period of six months, until the next elections were held.

– As concerns the MLSA representatives’ intervention at the ICEA’s meeting, the Government states that: (1) the inspection of the election of trade unions and confederations is entrusted to the MLSA under article 19 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions; (2) paragraph 272 of the Digest of decisions and principles of the Freedom of Association Committee (fifth edition, 2006), in providing that the founders of an organization are not free from the duty of observing the formalities prescribed by law, supports its contention that the monitoring of elections does not infringe upon employers’ organizations’ freedom of association rights; (3) the MLSA Inspectors were simply enforcing the requirements stipulated in article 38 of the ICEA’s Constitution, which provides, inter alia, that the electorate must possess valid membership status in order to participate in the organization’s elections; (4) Mr Otaredian, President of the ICEA, was ineligible to be elected under article 38(2) of the ICEA Constitution: due to his resignation from the Federation of Construction Contractors’ Organizations, he had lost his ICEA membership and had consequently lost his credentials to either vote or to be elected; and (5) it had received numerous complaints from ICEA members following the General Assembly’s failure to hold an election.

– The ICEA received a letter dated 2 November 2006 from the MLSA, signed by the Director-General of the Employers’ and Workers’ Organizations Department, informing it that it would be dissolved and of the illegality of the continuation of its activities.

– Mr Otaredian submitted a letter to the MLSA acknowledging the latter’s right to dissolve confederations, admitting to the negligence of the confederation’s senior officers in failing to use the available six month period following the expiry of their terms of office to settle the organization’s problems concerning the status of its members, and calling upon the Minister to intervene by removing any obstacles to the ICEA’s holding of elections.

– Article 28 of the ICEA Constitution and the provisions of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions do not allow for another six month extension of the Board’ mandate.

– On 12 November 2006, the ICEA filed a complaint against the MLSA with the Administrative Justice Court, requesting the annulment of the Ministry’s dissolution order.

– In December 2006, the ICE was registered by the MLSA under the same registration number previously assigned to the ICEA. The complainant alleges that the MLSA had paid the ICE an amount equal to $20,000 and that the ICE General Assembly meeting was held in a government building – the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) building – with high security, preventing the entry of any representatives of employers’ associations except those invited by the MLSA.

– The Government indicates that the ICE was sufficiently representative of the organizations whose interests it seeks to defend, and that in view of the violations committed by the ICEA’s Board of Directors, and in order to preserve the legal identity of the employers’ confederation under its single confederation system, it did not hesitate to register the ICE under the same number previously given to the ICEA. The Government further states that it played no part in the ICE’s rental of the IRIB centre for its General Assembly. The IRIB centre hosts many meetings by private and state institutions and had contracted with the ICE for the provision of election facilities free from the Government’s involvement.

– On 17 January 2007, the court found that the dissolution of ICEA was only enforceable through a competent court and declared a provisional injunction against the Ministry’s decision to dissolve the ICEA.

– On 5 March 2007, the ICEA held a General Assembly meeting attended by more than 84 per cent of the members entitled to vote. The ICEA informed the MLSA of the meeting and invited the MLSA to attend. No MLSA representatives attended the meeting; however, the Ministry of Justice, which was also invited to the meeting, did send representatives. A new Board of Directors and Inspectors was designated at the General Assembly meeting, the minutes of which were signed and confirmed by the representatives of the Ministry of Justice.

– On 2 March 2008 the Appellate Branch of the Administrative Justice Court overturned the 17 January 2007 decision of the lower Administrative Justice Court. In its decision, the Appellate Court found that the MLSA, in its 2 November 2006 letter addressed to the ICEA, merely indicated the latter’s non-compliance with the articles of its Constitution and did not declare the organization’s dissolution. It further found the extension of the ICEA Board’s term for another six months to be invalid – as article 28 of the ICEA Constitution and the provisions of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions do not allow for another six-month extension of the Board’s mandate – and considered the ICEA to have been dissolved as of 4 November 2006 by virtue of article 42 of its Articles of Association, which provides that the organization shall be dissolved if it fails to elect a new Board of Directors six months from the expiry of the term of the present Board of Directors.

1155. As regards the allegations concerning interference in the ICEA’s 1 November 2006 General Assembly and the latter’s subsequent dissolution, the Committee notes the Government’s indications that: (1) the inspection of organizational elections is entrusted to the MLSA under article 19 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions; (2) the MLSA inspectors were simply enforcing the requirements stipulated in article 38 of the ICEA’s Constitution, which provides, inter alia, that the electorate must possess valid membership status in order to participate in the organization’s elections; (3) the ICEA had failed to abide by several provisions of the Labour Law and the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions – specifically article 11 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures, which requires the boards of directors of organizations to call a general assembly at least three months prior to the termination of their tenure, article 14 of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures, and article 131 of the Labour Law providing for the issuance of notices for the holding of a general assembly and a new election two months before the termination of the tenure of the Board of Directors; (4) as article 28 of the ICEA Constitution and the provisions of the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures do not allow for another six-month extension of the Board’ mandate, in its 2 March 2008 decision the Appellate Branch of the Administrative Justice Court found the ICEA to have been dissolved as of 4 November 2006 by virtue of article 42 of its Articles of Association, which provides that the organization shall be dissolved if it fails to elect a new Board of Directors six months from the expiry of the term of the present Board of Directors.

1156. The Committee, while taking due note of the Government’s indications relating to the legislative framework for its intervention and the statutory obligations upon the leadership of the ICEA, must recall that the legal formalities referred to must be considered in the light of freedom of association principles. A number of the legal requirements concerning the holding of elections, particularly the Government’s role in their sanctioning, are contrary to the principle that workers’ and employers’ organizations should be guaranteed the right to elect their officers without interference by the public authorities. While the Government further argues that those conditions are also contained in the ICEA’s statutes, the Committee can only query whether their inclusion in the confederation’s statutes was due to, or required by the existing legislative framework. The Committee must therefore first recall that the regulation of procedures and methods for the election of trade union officials, as well as those of employers’ organizations, is primarily to be governed by the organizations’ rules themselves. The fundamental idea of Article 3 of Convention No. 87 is that workers and employers may decide for themselves the rules which should govern the administration of their organizations and the elections which are held therein. For this right to be fully acknowledged, it is essential that the public authorities refrain from any intervention which might impair its exercise, whether it be in determining the conditions of eligibility of leaders or in the conduct of the elections themselves. The Committee further recalls that the presence during trade union elections of the authorities is liable to infringe freedom of association and, in particular, to be incompatible with the principle that workers’ and employers’ organizations shall have the right to elect their representatives in full freedom, and that the public authorities should refrain from any interference which would restrict this right or impede the lawful exercise thereof. [See Digest of decisions and principles of the Freedom of Association Committee, fifth edition, 2006, paras 392, 391 and 438.]

1157. As regards the Government’s statement concerning Mr Otaredian’s ineligibility for office, the Committee recalls that the determination of conditions of eligibility for union membership or union office is a matter that should be left to the discretion of union/employer organization by-laws and the public authorities should refrain from any intervention which might impair the exercise of this right [see Digest, op. cit., para. 405]. Any concern as to the violation of the ICEA’s constitution should have been the subject of a complaint emanating from the ICEA membership itself and dealt with in accordance with its own constitution and ultimately referred for judicial determination. In light of the above principles, the Committee can only conclude that the Government’s presence and conduct during the ICEA elections on 1 November 2007 amounts to interference in the right of employers’ organizations to elect their representatives in full freedom contrary to the principles of freedom of association and urges the Government to refrain from such interference in the future.

1158. As regards the MLSA decision in its letter of 2 November 2007 to dissolve the ICEA in line with article 42 of its own constitution on the basis of the failed outcome of the elections called for 1 November, the Committee must recall that measures of suspension or dissolution by the administrative authority constitute serious infringements of the principles of freedom of association [see Digest, op. cit., para. 683]. The Committee notes the Government’s argument that it had simply communicated the dissolution of the ICEA in accordance with its own Constitution. However, the Committee cannot ignore the evidence that the Government’s communication was the act which declared the dissolution of the ICEA and that this occurred the day following interference by the Government in the internal affairs of the ICEA. The Committee also observes that the General Assembly – the sovereign body of workers’ and employers’ organizations – decided to suspend the election and to extend the existing Board of Directors and Inspectors for a period of six months, pending renewed elections. In view of the serious consequences which dissolution of an employers’ organization involves for the representation of employers, the Committee considers that the determination of the application of article 42 of the ICEA Constitution should have been a matter for an independent judicial body on the basis of complaints emanating from the ICEA membership and that the Government should have refrained from any administrative action in that respect until the competent court had heard the matter.

1159. The Committee notes with deep regret that, not only had the Government announced the dissolution of the ICEA prior to such a court decision, but that it also allegedly supported a break-away faction of the ICEA in its General Assembly election in December 2007 and then proceeded to acknowledge the new organization, the ICE, prior to the decision of the competent court that had been seized with the ICEA appeal of the MLSA administrative dissolution. Moreover, the Government continued to recognize the ICE as the unique employers’ organization in the country registered under the same number that the ICEA had been previously registered under, even following the injunction ordered by the court in respect of the status of the ICEA.

1160. While taking due note of the Government’s indication that the ICE was registered because it was sufficiently representative of the organizations whose interests it sought to defend, the Committee would recall that on more than one occasion, it has examined cases in which allegations were made that the public authorities had, by their attitude, favoured or discriminated against one or more trade union/employers’ organizations: (1) pressure exerted by means of public statements made by the authorities; (2) unequal distribution of subsidies or the granting to one organization, rather than to the others, of premises for holding its meetings or carrying on its activities; (3) refusal to recognize the leaders of certain organizations in the performance of their legitimate activities. Discrimination by such methods, or by others, may be less formal, yet it still constitutes a serious breach of freedom of association as it is equally capable of adversely influencing the organization’s membership and prejudicing its activities. Although such discrimination may be difficult to prove as it may be constituted by a series of events, this factor can make it more insidious. The fact, nevertheless, remains that any discrimination of this kind jeopardizes the right of workers and employers set out in Convention No. 87, Article 2, to establish and join organizations of their own choosing [see Digest, op. cit., para. 342]. The Committee notes in this regard the Government’s affirmation that it played no part in the ICE’s rental of the IRIB Centre for its General Assembly, but further observes with concern that the Government does not respond to the allegation that it provided $20,000 to the ICE. In any event, the Committee considers that the Government has demonstrated de facto favoritism towards the ICE by registering it as the replacement to the ICEA in December 2006 – prior to the court’s determination of the appeal brought by the ICEA. The Committee deeply regrets the favouritism shown by the Government in this regard. The Committee considers such favouritism to be a breach of the freedom of association rights of the ICEA and calls on the Government to remedy past discriminatory acts, to desist from those acts which are continuing, and to refrain from such interference in the future.

1161. With regard to the ICEA’s dissolution, the Committee observes that although the ICEA had suspended its 1 November 2006 election – in which MLSA officials had intervened by declaring certain members ineligible to vote – and extended the mandate of the existing Board of Directors and Inspectors for a period of six months during which time it organized another election, this extension was deemed invalid by the Appellate Court under the confederation’s own Constitution and the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions. Consequently, the ICEA was found to have been dissolved by virtue of article 42 of its own Constitution.

1162. In light of the principles set out above in relation to the importance of ensuring non-interference by the public authorities in respect of the autonomy of workers’ and employers’ organizations in relation to the election of their officers and the Committee’s conclusion that there was serious interference by the public authorities during the 1 November 2007 General Assembly and through the registration in December 2007 of the ICE, the Committee can only conclude that the legislative provisions annulling the 1 November General Assembly decision – referred to by the Government and the appellate court - constitute grave interference in the fundamental freedom of association rights of workers and employers and have been applied in a manner so as to infringe upon the independence of their organizations. The Committee therefore urges the Government to take the necessary measures to amend the existing legislation, including the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions, so as to ensure that employers’ and workers’ organizations may fully exercise their right to elect their representatives freely and without interference by the public authorities.

1163. As concerns the Labour Law’s prohibition on the existence of more than one employers’ confederation, the Committee recalls that while it is generally to the advantage of workers and employers to avoid the proliferation of competing organizations, a monopoly situation imposed by law is at variance with the principle of free choice of workers’ and employers’ organizations [see Digest, op. cit., para. 320]. The Committee observes that it has been taking note of the Government’s efforts to amend the labour legislation so as to bring it into full conformity with the principles of freedom of association for some time now [see Case No. 2508, 346th Report, para. 1190]. It further notes that the organizational monopoly required by the legislation appears to be the basic problem giving rise to numerous obstacles to the exercise of freedom of association in the country and, in this particular case, appears to be the main hurdle to the recognition of the ICEA. In these circumstances, the Committee requests the Government to take measures as a matter of urgency to amend the Labour Law so as to ensure the freedom of association rights of all workers and employers and in particular, the right of workers and employers to establish more than one organization, be it at enterprise, sectoral or national level, in a manner consistent with freedom of association and that this be done in a manner that does not prejudice the rights formerly held by the ICEA. It requests the Government to transmit a copy of the proposed amendments as soon as they are finalized and firmly expects that the legislation will be brought into conformity with the abovementioned principle in the very near future.

1164. In light of all the above, the Committee cannot but conclude that the final decision to dissolve the ICEA was based on legislative provisions and practices that it considers to be contrary to the fundamental principles of freedom of association. Noting that the ICEA has appealed the 2 March 2008 decision of the Administrative Justice Court’s Appellate Branch, the Committee expects that the appeal will, as per the ICEA’s request, be heard by the Ultimate Appeals Branch of the Administrative Justice Court in the very near future, and that the latter body will take into full consideration all of the Committee’s conclusions set out above. The Committee requests the Government to keep it informed of developments in this regard and to provide a copy of the final judgement once it is handed down. In the meantime, the Committee urges the Government to immediately take the necessary measures to re-register the ICEA, as constituted following its General Assembly of 5 March 2007, and to ensure that it can exercise its activities without hindrance. Upon such re-registration, the Committee further urges the Government to adopt a position of non-interference and neutrality in the exercise of freedom of association employers must have in relation to membership of the ICEA, and to provide no formal or informal preference or favouritism to other organizations. It requests the Government to keep it informed of the steps taken in this regard.

1165. Overall, the Committee is compelled to express its deep concern with the seriousness of the situation prevailing in the country and calls the Governing Body’s special attention to the grave situation relating to the freedom of association climate in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It requests the Government to accept a direct contacts mission in respect of the matters raised in the present case, as well as those raised in the other cases concerning the Islamic Republic of Iran pending before the Committee.

D. The Committee’s recommendations

1166. In the light of its foregoing interim conclusions, the Committee invites the Governing Body to approve the following recommendations:

(a) Considering that the Government’s presence and conduct during the ICEA elections on 1 November 2007 amounts to interference in the right of employers’ organizations to elect their representatives in full freedom contrary to the principles of freedom of association, the Committee urges the Government to refrain from such interference in the future.

(b) The Committee considers the favouritism shown by the Government to be a breach of the ICEA’s freedom of association rights and calls on the Government to remedy past discriminatory acts, to desist from those acts which are continuing, and to refrain from such interference in the future.

(c) The Committee urges the Government to take the necessary measures to amend the existing legislation, including the Council of Ministers’ Rules and Procedures on the Organization, Functions, Scope and Liabilities of Trade Unions, so as to ensure that employers’ and workers’ organizations may fully exercise their right to elect their representatives freely and without interference by the public authorities.

(d) The Committee requests the Government to take measures as a matter of urgency to amend the Labour Law so to ensure the freedom of association rights of all workers and employers and, in particular, the right of workers and employers to establish more than one organization, be it at enterprise, sectoral or national level, in a manner consistent with freedom of association and that this be done in a manner that does not prejudice the rights formerly held by the ICEA. It requests the Government to transmit a copy of the proposed amendments as soon as they are finalized and firmly expects that the legislation will be brought into conformity with the abovementioned principle in the very near future.

(e) Noting that the ICEA has appealed the 2 March 2008 decision of the Administrative Justice Court’s Appellate Branch, which ruled that the ICEA had been dissolved by operation of article 42 of its Articles of Association, the Committee expects that the appeal will, as per the ICEA’s request, be heard by the Ultimate Appeals Branch of the Administrative Justice Court in the very near future, and that the latter body will take into full consideration all of the Committee’s conclusions set out above. The Committee requests the Government to keep it informed of developments in this regard and to provide a copy of the final judgement once it is handed down.

(f) Pending the decision of the Ultimate Appeals Branch of the Administrative Court, the Committee urges the Government to immediately take the necessary measures to re-register the ICEA, as constituted following its General Assembly of 5 March 2007 and to ensure that it can exercise its activities without hindrance. Upon such re-registration, the Committee further urges the Government to adopt a position of non-interference and neutrality in the exercise of freedom of association employers must have in relation to membership of the ICEA, and to provide no formal or informal preference or favouritism to other organizations. It requests the Government to keep it informed of the steps taken in this regard.

(g) The Committee expresses its deep concern with the seriousness of the situation prevailing in the country and calls the Governing Body’s special attention to the grave situation relating to the freedom of association climate in the Islamic Republic of Iran. It requests the Government to accept a direct contacts mission in respect of the matters raised in the present case, as well as those raised in the other cases concerning the Islamic Republic Iran pending before the Committee.

براي خواندن ترجمه‌ي فارسي گزارش فوق اينجا را كليك كنيد.


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