Sunday, 2 August 2009

German firm threatens to sack workers involved in Iran demonstrations

Old ghosts haunt the Germans: Civil unrest is verboten. And business dealings take the preference and should not be disturbed. There's nothing particular German in this attitude, other countries follow the same rules, but in this case, a German company was caught red handed.

A German company in Iran threatened its employees with the sack, should they participate in demonstrations against the mullah’s regime in Tehran. According to a Deutsche Welle report, on 21st July the German company Knauf sent out a letter to its three subsidiaries operating in Iran. The document is addressed "to all employees of Knauf Iran, Knauf Gatch and Iran Gatch," threatening that if anyone from the company "gets caught demonstrating against the current government, he or she will be immediately dismissed".

The letter is signed by Isabel Knauf, a member of the founding family of the Bavaria-based construction materials company. She's on the supervisory board of Knauf's operations in Iran.

Iranians living in Germany have bombarded the company with threatening calls and e-mails, company spokesman Jörg Schanow said last Friday. Schanow confirmed the letter was sent but he called the wording of the document very "unfortunate."

Knauf "strictly apolitical"?
In the letter, Isabel Knauf justified the threat to dismiss staff by saying that Knauf was "strictly apolitical" and reminded "all employees that they are not only representing their private opinion when being politically active, but that their actions could fall back negatively on our Knauf companies in Iran."

According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, however, there may be concrete reason behind Knauf's decision to send out the controversial letter. The newspaper says that a senior German-Iranian employee of the company had been arrested during earlier demonstrations. It says the Tehran authorities told Knauf that their executive would only be released if it forced its employees to refrain from any involvement in the pro-opposition protests.

Strange as it may look, the policy of Knauf resembles very much to the behaviour of German companies during the late Shahanshah’s reign.

In Januar 1973 Deutsche Bank, Daimler-Benz, Telefunken, Hoechst, Bayer, BASF and other companies had joined hands for a congratulating message to His Imperial Majesty. They all praised “His Majesty Shahanshah Aryamehr” for having intiated the White Revolution on 26th January 1963.

This full page advertisment was published in the Tehran based German language weekly “Die Post” on 22nd January 1973. Der Iranian-German weekly has long gone as has the devotion of German companies for the Monarchy.

What remained is the odd wish to please the present dictatorial regime and prevent their employees from seeking a freer regime. No hope for the Germans to support Monarchists at this stage. Only after the return onto the peacock throne will the German be pleased to serve His Imperial Majesty Shahanshah Reza II.

1 comment:

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