Protests by Steel and Sugarcane Workers Continue in Southwestern Iran
Human Rights Activists News Agency (HRANA) – Worker protests continued to rock the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan on August 25. Workers of the Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) in the provincial center of Ahvaz and those of the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Agro-Business (HTSA) organized protest gatherings to push their demands.
HTSA workers started the eighth consecutive day of protests by gathering on the factory grounds, HRANA reported.
Speaking on the meeting that HTSA union and representatives had with authorities of Shush county and Khuzestan province, Esmayil Bakhshi, a representative of the workers, said: “I feel sorry for the Provincial Governor who sees us as the enemy. He wasn’t even willing to leave his office to see why the workers are on strike. When we ask for an independent workers’ council to be formed it is so that workers’ direct supervision on state managers would prevent such people from becoming managers and disrespecting workers.”
Nonpayment of wages, the outsourcing of some HTSA departments and other changes in the factory are the major issues expressed by the workers.
HRANA had previously reported on the HTSA strikes.
Protest March of Ahvaz Steelworkers
On August 25th, a group of INSIG workers in Ahvaz marched in front of the provincial governor’s office in the city and asked for their back wages to be paid and for the right to form a workers council.
The workers organized a protest march and chanted slogans including “Our country is full of thieves; nowhere in the world is like this”.
“INSIG wages and benefits have not been paid from March to July and our efforts to follow up have been useless,” one of the workers told the state-run news agency, IRNA. “INSIG has currently zero production. We have been promised that raw material necessary for production will be supplied before the end of the year [Persian calendar year, ending on March 21, 2019.] but there is no hope and no positive perspective. The authorities are not accepting responsibility for paying wages and sending the workers back to work.”
INSIG consists of a range of companies and employs about 4,000 workers who have not been paid for a few months. Their protests began on Saturday, August 18th asking for payment of four months of wages and the supplying of raw material.