Iran: Security forces arrested 15 workers following protest actions by Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers

0000000Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate issued a public statement condemning the arrest of 15 workers in the evening of July 25th.

Highlights of the statement are as follows (the original text in Farsi is attached):

We denounce the failure to address the demands of the workers of the Haft Tape sugarcane company and the use of law enforcement forces against protesting workers!
Arrested workers should be released immediately and unconditionally!

Following protests from the workers of the Haft Tape Sugarcane Industry in recent days and the closure of the Andimeshk-Ahvaz international road on July 25th by workers in protest of the employer’s failure to meet their pending demands, police and security forces raided the residences of some of the protesting workers at about 9 pm, July 25, 2017, and arrested fifteen workers. Ahmad Kasir, Behzad Nazari, Seyed Hadi Tafah, Abdolreza Sorkheh, Hamid Abdullah Zadeh and two people both named Sabah Savari are among the detainees.

Our colleagues have announced that they will resume their protests from tomorrow if their demands are not met and the detained workers are not released.

The Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers have been protesting and striking over the past few years to obtain their demands. The recent protests of the workers and pensioners of the Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Co have hitherto shown to the authorities that it is unacceptable to ignore the demands of the workers, including: payment of wage arrears from May to July this year; the renewal of the Social Security Organization’s insurance coverage, which has not been renewed since March 2017 due to lack of deposits paid by the employer; retired workers, whose retirement started in March this year, are still waiting for the employer’s contributions.

In addition to the above urgent demands, the process of transferring the company to the private sector is facing strong objection by the workers. For more than 15 months this process has been ongoing and although the company has not yet fully privatized and continues to be considered a public company, the inefficiency of the private sector has been so obvious and destructive that if this process is completed and the company fully privatized, the fate of the whole industry and its workers will be more seriously jeopardized. The privatization process has so far made wage and employee remuneration constantly delayed, job security for workers weakened, and even the basic benefits such as working clothes and boots would not be available to workers. As the workers’ situation worsens, we have witnessed the widespread presence of security and law enforcement personnel in the working environments. The crackdown of workers by law enforcement forces in recent days and today, after closing the Ahwaz-Andimeshk road, shows that officials prefer to spend millions of security costs, but at the same time refusing to pay workers’ wages and benefits.

The bitter fact is that the number of workers and employees of the Haft Tape Sugarcane Company has consistently been falling, from above 7,000 to below 4,500, and now the majority of workers in the company, especially in the agricultural section, are contract workers. There is no doubt that the government is responsible for these violations of our basic rights and abusive actions and is therefore obligated to deal with all the demands of the workers and theft of our wages as soon as possible.

The Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate calls for the immediate and unconditional release of all detained workers. The syndicate will strive to increase the attention of the workers in the country and the international labour community about the company’s workers’ and pensioners’ struggles. While appreciating the ongoing support domestically, we also appreciate the support of the IUF (International Union of Food, Agricultural, Hotel, Restaurant, Catering, Tobacco and Allied Workers’ Associations) and its global campaign, and by other labour organizations, that have begun in support of the Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers and our Syndicate since last week. We are calling for continued support and solidarity with our struggles by the labour movements in Iran and internationally.

 *Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ syndicate (also known in English as Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Company)

July 25, 2017

[IUF: Iran: Haft Tapeh sugar workers are fighting for their wages, pensions and rights!]: 5641

*Translated by IASWI

International Alliance in Support of Workers in Iran (IASWI)

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