Update on Iranian workers' struggles

Scenes from recent glass workers demonstration in Iran
Scenes from recent glass workers demonstration in Iran

A round-up of recent struggles going on in Iran, including textile and petrochemical workers' strikes and opposition to new changes in labour law.

Submitted by Ed on November 10, 2006

Security forces kill a worker and wounded others
Security forces opened fire on workers and drivers in Bandar-e Daylam’s (Persian Gulf Port Daylam) custom, killing one worker and wounding a few others in November 5, 2006.

MP Shokrollah Attarzadeh, who represents Bushehr near Daylam in the Majles-e Shura-ye Eslami (Islamic Consultative Assembly/ Parliament), in an open letter to Iran’s Interior Minister, Mostafa Pour-Mohammadi, protested against the security forces’ violent and unjustifiable treatment of workers of Bandar-e Daylam’s custom. He denied the justification given that the security forces were involved in an operation against the smuggling of products. He said that a worker, named Barooni Haghighat, were killed and several others were injured.

According to Attarzadeh, the residents of Port Daylam are very upset and the city is very tense and agitated because of the killing and maiming of innocent workers. Attarzadeh called for the investigation of this repressive action. Despite all the available facts, the government would most likely cover up the incident by denying independent investigation and by refusing to take full responsibility for the police brutality. Thus far, the Iranian working people and the public at large have not seen any official acknowledgement of responsibility by the government authorities following the killing of workers in the town of Khatoonabad and the city of Shahr-e-Babak in Kerman Province or brutal attacks on workers of Vahed/Saqez/Alborz/Parris/Sanandaj, and so on. And we have not seen any authority being prosecuted for the killing and maiming of working people and their family members.

Two days of protest gathering of the workers of Sanandaj Shahoo textile factory ended successfully
On about October 21st Shahoo workers had gathered inside the factory demanding their unpaid wages. During this gathering the employer’s representative made an announcement to the workers that they should return to factory the very next day, so the owner of the plant would meet with them in order to investigate their situation.

But when workers returned the next day, the owner did not show up; as a result, workers proceed to go to the main office of the Kurdistan Province’s Social Security to apply for unemployment insurance benefits for some of their co-workers. They were told Tehran must send an approval letter in order to pay their unemployment insurance benefits. Although Shahoo workers couldn’t get their unpaid and delayed salary within those two days, they announced that they would gather inside of factory on October 28th to pursue their demands.

On October 28th workers staged a sit in and returned successfully to work on October 29th. Following the restructuring that took palace in the Shahoo factory and uncertainty of 24 workers of the said factory, the employer of the Shahoo factory had refused to pay 8 of these workers salaries from first to the third month of the Iranian calendar year as well as refusing to renew their health benefit plan.

Although, all workers have been included to receive unemployment benefit since the 4th month of this year, but on the baseless claim of IRI officials, stating that since those workers have used their unemployment benefit last year, they are not eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits.

The demands of workers in their 2 days strike were: getting paid for those three months unpaid salaries, getting paid for unemployment benefits after those three months, renew their health plan benefit of those 8 workers as well as bringing them back to work. Based upon agreement that took place between the workers and employer, it has been agreed by employer that all demands of workers will be met. In addition it was promised that those 8 workers will start working the next day, and 16 of workers will get paid unemployment benefit for those 4 months from unemployment social security office.

Petrochemical workers strike for backpay
On October 28th workers in Pars Tadbir Fan Factory (which is part of the Petrochemical industry in City of Kermanshah) went on strike to demand the payment of their wages for the past three months. This factory with 170 workers is one of the plants that is under the ownership of the Pars Keyhan and is involved in electrical and precise tools.

Since the beginning of March 2006 (the beginning of new Iranian calendar year) this factory has delayed salary payments to its employees, and this is the second time that its workers are gone on strike. The striking workers of this factory had gathered until 4pm and the next day (October 29th) continued their strike until 10 am. Two days into strike, only Mr. Shokohi the executive director of administrative affair of Pars Keyhan factory spoke with workers announcing that he couldn’t make any promises about their unpaid salaries but you (workers) should go back to work any way.

Workers announced that until their salaries are paid they would not go back to work, and they would not end their strike. As a result on October 30th, workers decided to call for the General Assembly in order to see how to go about wining their just demands. On November 5th, after being on strike for ten days, workers decided to stage a rally in front of the province’s governor’s office but the company’s security and management intervened and promised to address some of their demands. AS of November 6th, workers received their pay for the month of August (Mordad) and they will receive their pay for September and October soon.

According to ILNA news, on October 29th, workers of the Medical Industries Development Company had a protest gathering. The officials of the Department of Health had decided to dissolve this company, which in turn would dissolve all three production plants in the area of surgical tools production, hospital outfits and bedding productions and will sack 200 workers who are currently employed. Workers of all plants gathered in front of the main office of this factory located in Naser Khosro Street, to sow their protest and objections about the decision of directors of the Health Department. Workers have said that since the beginning of this year they haven’t had any production and their salaries have not been paid on time.

Iran Radiactor workers strike for benefits
Workers of factory of the “Iran Radiator” located in the west of Tehran had a peaceful strike on October 31st. The workers protest come as a result of cutting their benefits since the November of last year. The company’s management had fired 300 of contract workers since the beginning of this year. Following the announcement of changes to minimum wages in 1385 (March 21 206 to March 20, 207) the management also decided that the minimum salary was going to be 150, 000 Toman per month (about $US150/month) and when workers raised their objections they were told any body objecting the decision would be fired immediately.

Labour activist's trial begins
On November 1st, the first branch of revolutionary court opened its hearing against Mr. Mohsen Hakimi who is one of the labour activists arrested on May Day 2004 in Saqez as well as a member of the Iranian Writers Centre. Mr. Mohammad Sharif, the defendant’s attorney, defended Mr. Hakimi based on alleged conspiracy to act that is part of the amendment number 610 of the punitive Islamic law, defended his client and gave the court his written defense statement as well. Mr. Sharif elaborated that he hopes that his client be clear of new accusation. He further stated that his Client, Mr. Hakimi, had been accused of participating in unlawful assembly in regard to the May First celebration in 2004, and was sentenced to two years imprisonment, but the appeal court over ruled out that decision and found his client not guilty of that charge.

Wave of demonstrations in front of Iranian parliament
According to ILNA new agency, from October 29th to 31st, there were a number of demonstrations in front of Majles (parliament in Tehran) concerning the latest anti-worker changes to the labour law.

Over 100 workers from the City of Rey along with other workers of the Tehran Province had protested about the labour law reform that is presented by the government under the pretext of overcoming the production and capital obstacles. The new labour law reform and the elimination of amendment number 27 of the existing labour law will give a total free ride to managements and employers to fire workers and undermine the will of workers in their demands and benefits. The workers were carrying placards demonstrating that “the New labour law reform means firing of contract workers”, The commission of industry should stay away from the labour law“, Think about our situation”, “The Majles is cutting our livelihood as a new year gift”.

A large number of workers of the East Tehran and Karaj manufacturing sections had protested about the new labour law reform against the parliamentary subcommittee of the Industrial and Mine in front of the parliament on October 31. Workers stated that they will not stay silence as long as the discussion on new labour law reform is in effect.

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)
The International Alliance in Support of Workers’ in Iran (IASWI) was formed in January 2000, with labour endorsements, to launch and organize collaborative international solidarity campaigns in support of workers’ rights and struggles in Iran.