Iran: Steel Factory Workers protest in oil-rich Ahvaz
Strikes are breaking out all over Iran now. It's not just the teachers, the elderly pensioners and the truckers now, the strikes are moving to big cornerstones of the Iranian economy, such as the steel industry.
Chanting “I don’t leave until I get my rights,” “Dying workers don’t accept submission,” “No nation has seen this much injustice,” “One less embezzlement, our problem is solved,” the workers of the Ahvaz Steel Factory hit the sixth day of their strike on Nov. 14. It was a raucous demonstration full of slogans in front of the Iranian governorate. Then they marched and blocked the street.
Chants continued: “Today is the day of mourning, the poor nationals are the victims,” “They chant for Imam Hossein, but pride themselves in thieving,” (meaning that the Iranian government is taking advantage of the third Shia Imam, which is a tenet of the Shia faith, cynically for its own profit).
Videos of the protest, here and here, showed a large group of the Ahvaz steel factory workers gathered outside the governor’s office in the southern province:
The workers of the Ahvaz Steel Factory closed the main gate of the factory on Tuesday, Nov.13, and blocked the entrance of Eshaq Jahangiri, the first vice president of Hassan Rouhani's government here.
See this video:
This is not the first time the Iranian steel workers have gone on strike, and based on their previous strikes, they know how dangerous such an action is in the mullah regime.
The last of round of protests by the Ahvaz Steelworkers was in June, when more than 50 workers were detained by security forces. They were demanding three months of their unpaid wages.
According to a labor unionist, four of the detainees were brutally beaten after being taken to a detention center for suspects arrested for drug offenses.
“One of the workers was beaten to the extent that he suffered a hemorrhage, but the authorities did not make an effort to transfer him to a medical facility,” the Free Workers Union of Iran stated in June.
According to the FWU, another detainee was shot with a Taser gun while in custody.
Reports indicate that almost all of the detained workers were later released on bail after other workers demonstrated for their release.
Ahvaz Steel Factory is a national steel industry group in Iran with 54 years of operation. It has been a major manufacturer of craft products with a capacity of more than 3,000 specialists in the labor force, these people are the elites of the working class. Their factory has been an economic pole for the country, yet production has fallen to 10% as a result of sanctions, inflation, and the rest of the devastating policies of the mullahs' regime, as well as the plundering of its assets by the Revolutionary Guards. That has left the workers deprived of their low wages, forcing them to strike every few months to get those wages. Earlier this February, they protested against the non-payment of their three months' salary and benefits, and the failure of their regime-linked employer to fulfill its false promises.
In the meantime, Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers continued their strike for the tenth consecutive day as well. Holding their rally outside the provincial governor’s office in Shush city, the protesting workers can be seen in these videos here and here:
They chanted: "Hail to the workers, down with dictator," "Dying workers do not accept abjection,” "Long live solidarity with the Shush people."
According to one news report, a female worker stated: “The workers are in poor economic conditions and they are becoming incapable to make ends meet. The company officials are constantly providing promises, yet always failing to deliver.”
Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1