Report on the formation of the Storytellers Guild

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Reza Shokrollahi: A few days ago, the official news of the establishment of the Storytellers’ Guild Association with the full and legal title of “Tehran Province Storytellers’ Workers’ Guild Association” was published to recruit members and hold a general assembly. Mohammad Hosseini, a member and spokesman of the founders ‘association of the Storytellers’ Association, has sent a report on the formation of this association, in addition to the names of the members and the text of the association’s articles of association, to be published in Khoobgerd.

Constant regret

Needless to say, the lack of an institution stemming from the professional concerns of Iranian novelists has been one of the greatest regrets of our writers. All these years, in official meetings, press interviews and family chats, the field of speech is always tied to the fact that; Both the old private institutions and the established mechanisms of government, what they have forgotten in their activities or have not been able to do for various reasons, are to support storytelling as a profession.Such as structured and professional support for novelists, adherence to global copyright law, participation with publishers in publishing publishing contracts, prevention of plagiarism, guiding the government to clarify barriers to publication, and protecting the interests of writers in other areas that somehow involve the work of novelists. In the country.

Step two

In August 2016, the second step was taken by a small group of writers after a constant discussion about the absence of such an institution. I mean, why not? Why not move towards building such an institution? It should not be forgotten, however, that the possibility of the current government accompanying the rightful demands of the writers also had an effect on the second step. Especially since, almost at the same time as us, filmmakers, translators, editors, and children and adolescent writers had taken steps in this direction, and those early groups also used their experiences in connection with activists in these fields. However, this group took the matter more seriously.

Reference reference

Preliminary investigations revealed that the Ministry of Labor was the best authority to turn to for legal protections to protect the authors’ trade union rights. In this way, in addition to increasing the likelihood of having the legal support of domestic judicial authorities, the protection of trade union rights is further guaranteed by organic links with similar global institutions.


In addition to the Ministry of Labor, three other ministries could be referred to. Obtaining a scientific license from the Ministry of Science is subject to having a faculty, and since there is no fiction in Iran as a field and specialty, then, in the first way, it does not have a faculty.

Obtaining a permit from the Ministry of the Interior has limitations and cumbersome oversight that can only be obtained by some. At the same time, the Ministry of Interior also issues licenses to NGOs or non-governmental organizations whose statutes and job descriptions do not guarantee the protection of trade union rights of various and comprehensive professions.


From the Ministry of Guidance, you can only get a license to operate cultural and artistic institutions or literary centers. The former is more for profit and the latter is more or less purely cultural. At the same time, the administrative licenses of the Ministry of Guidance can be revoked by the same ministry, while the license of the trade union association by the Ministry of Labor has universal rules, the closure of which is not so simple. The experience of the cinema house and its easy closure is before us. That is why the people of cinema, as one of the most experienced artistic groups in the country in trade union affairs, have now moved towards obtaining a license from the Ministry of Labor.

First visit and fifty signatures

According to the labor law, a union can be established when at least fifty members of that union submit such a written request to the Ministry of Labor. It was at this time that the initial gathering of writers who were seriously pursuing the formation of the guild decided to invite fifty writers who had published at least two books to apply for such an institution. Undoubtedly, the basic condition of such people was their high level of empathy to achieve this.

Introducing the liaison

According to the law, in order to facilitate the work, three people must be introduced to the Ministry of Labor as representatives of the Constituent Assembly in order to formally follow up the work and expedite the administrative registration process. While consulting with some friends of the Constituent Assembly, Hossein Sanapour, Mohammad Hassan Shahsavari and Kamran Mohammadi agreed to take care of the follow-up meetings with the managers and experts of the Ministry of Labor.

Why a worker

When referring to the Ministry of Labor to register the application for the establishment of a trade union, it was determined that the trade unions must either operate under the legal title of employer or the legal title of worker. Obviously, storytellers are not employers. On the other hand, accepting the fact that novelists are legally defined as workers required the discussion and persuasion of the relevant officials in the Ministry of Labor.


Numerous meetings were held, as well as various contacts with the office of the Minister of Labor, his advisers, the director general, as well as experts of the Ministry of Labor, until it was finally justified that the work of storytellers could be interpreted as labor. Trade unions, because of their “workers’” legal title, have the advantage that because they are registered globally, the government can not directly terminate them without legal documentation, except in cases of deviation from the articles of association.

Proof of employment

The Ministry of Labor should now be legally and reasonably employed as storytellers in this class. In a meeting with the relevant director general, it was agreed that the presentation of two contracts for the publication of fiction in the field of adults confirms the employment of individuals in this class.

Activities in the province

On the other hand, according to the law, guilds cannot operate as a state. The largest geographical level of activity of each class is the province. That is why the full name of our association is “Tehran Workers’ Union of Storytellers”. But as soon as the storytellers of the other two provinces form a trade union with the permission of the Ministry of Labor, a national storytellers’ union can be formed.

Consolidation of documents

With more or less regular meetings and collective follow-up, the documents were prepared and handed over to the Ministry of Labor. Finally, after many follow-ups in February, the documents of fifty writers as the founding assembly of the Storytellers ‘Guild Association were approved by the Ministry of Labor and allowed to continue the process of forming the Storytellers’ Guilds Association of Tehran Province.

The final step in recognizing the forum

On March 4, a meeting of the Constituent Assembly was held with the presence of 28 authors to review the work process and discuss and review the articles of association. It should be emphasized that the task of the founding assembly is to bring the storytellers’ union to the general assembly and the board elections. After the election of the board of directors, the members of the founding assembly have the same status as the other members of the association. Therefore, the ultimate goal is to convene a general assembly and elect the association’s board of directors.


After the approval of the articles of association by the Ministry of Labor and within a certain time for membership, the General Assembly must be convened in the presence of the legal quorum as well as the representative of the Ministry of Labor to elect the board of directors. In fact, after the election process is approved by the representative of the Ministry of Labor, the Tehran Writers’ Union will start its work legally.

Non-compliance with copyright and cultural confusion

Hossein Sanapour believes that our non-adherence to the Berne Convention and non-observance of copyright has created a cultural upheaval.


According to ISNA, the author stated in an interview: “Improving the relationship of authors with publishers and better regulation of publishing contracts, so as not to the detriment of authors, depends entirely on our adherence to the Berne Convention (copyright), because as long as the publisher He can translate foreign books at no cost, it is natural that he will not pay much attention to the domestic author.


Pointing out that the Iranian author and researcher is facing negligence on the part of the publisher, he said: “In the current situation, the publisher does not need to produce the author much, and if the author does not want to accept the bad conditions of the publisher’s contract, the publisher easily refuses.” He publishes foreign books, just as most books on the market today are translation books.


Snapour added: “This issue causes most publishers to put contracts in front of the author that are more in their interest and do not pay attention to the demands of even the rightful authors.” In fact, the internal issues of our publication are a function of our non-accession to the Berne Convention.


The author of the novel “Ash”, however, said that the first and most important negative effect of Iran’s non-accession to this convention was the deterioration of our cultural and national image and said: Which have not acceded to this convention and one of them is Iran. Due to non-compliance with international publishing laws, our publishing house has always used the product of the work of foreign authors indiscriminately, that is, with a kind of cultural robbery. However, the decision-makers have not paid attention to this issue and have allowed us to be recognized in the eyes of the world as a country that ignores the rights of others and is a thief and a bandit.


He added: “Another major disadvantage of our non-joining the global copyright in the next degree is that the publishing situation has developed and progressed in favor of translated books and to the detriment of authored books.” The result, of course, has been damage to cultural production. In fact, we have allowed domestic authors to suffer in favor of Iranian publishers of foreign books, because it is quite clear that it takes months to write a novel, for example, and this time can sometimes be several years for research books, but translating a book only It takes one or two months and sometimes even (as I have heard) two or three weeks. For example, popular and best-selling books such as “Harry Potter” are cut into pieces and given to third-level translators or a number of novice translators to translate within two weeks to a maximum of one month, and then put the pieces together to publish the whole book. Eventually, these books are usually published with the worst translations.


The author of the novel “Semi-Absent” stated: “I have heard many times from writers and publishers who have participated in international exhibitions and intended to sell copies of their books to other countries, that many foreign publishers do not even enter into talks with Iranian publishers.” They say you belong to a country that steals our books, so why should we negotiate with you? In fact, the precondition for dialogue with foreign publishers and literary agencies is to adhere to the Berne Convention and to respect copyright. The few books that have been translated so far have either been, thanks to a foreign publisher, or have been so small that they did not matter.


Emphasizing that in this unequal competition, our cultural production is a complete loser, Snapur said: “One of the most important effects that the lack of copyright law has is the unaccountability and generalization of the publishing situation; In fact, when we do not obey the more general and larger laws, we create a kind of confusion and lawlessness, which results in finding those who do not obey domestic laws and print the books of other publishers underground, illegally and without permission. Such people justify their illegality and continue their work based on this non-adherence to international laws and the buzz of publishing. That is, our non-accession to the Berne Convention has created a cultural upheaval, and we are witnessing a variety of disadvantages, including the growth of illegal books and the spread of bad translations.


2017 March

Association of Storytellers

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