Reporting by PMOI/MEK
Iran, September 27, 2019—On Thursday, the workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane company, Khuzestan province, held the fourth consecutive day of their strikes and protests to the dismissal of their coworkers from the factory. The protesters, who held their gathering despite the heavy presence of security forces, demanded the return of all fired workers to the factory.
According to the syndicate of Haft Tapeh workers, the manager of the factory has threatened the protesting workers with the reduction of wages and the time of their contract, as well as arrest. Many of the workers have not received their salaries for several months.
The workers of Haft Tapeh started the new round of their protests after the company’s managers refrained from renewing the contract of 21 workers at the factory. In the previous weeks, the workers had been protesting to unpaid and delayed wages. According to the workers, since they resumed their protest, the regime has dispatched security forces to cause fear and prevent the strikes and protests from expanding.
In an attempt to downplay the situation, the Iranian regime’s state-run ILNA news agency had previously reported that the workers of Haft Tapeh had ended their protests and had returned to their jobs. But as the regime has not responded to their demands, the workers resumed their protests on Thursday.
Another point of contention between the workers and the managers of the factory is the privatization of the sugar mill. Haft Tapeh is one of several large government-owned companies that have been sold to private owners under the order of Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Iranian regime. Privatization, which often involves selling these companies to persons with close ties to regime officials, always results in the decline of production at the company in question and deteriorating working conditions for its workers. Haft Tapeh and HEPCO, Iran’s largest industrial equipment manufacturer, are two stark examples of how privatization has destroyed Iran’s industries.
In most privatized Iranian companies, workers are faced with delayed payment of their salaries, which has become a common cause of labor protests across Iran.
The protests of Haft Tapeh workers started last year. In November, the workers went on strike for several weeks, demanding the payment of their delayed salaries and the provision of minimum standards of working conditions at the factory. The regime’s response was to crack down on the protests and imprison dozens of the workers. Several of the protesters were tortured during their time in jail.
The Iranian regime has also resorted to giving heavy prison and corporal punishment sentences to the protesting workers of Haft Tapeh to dissuade them from continuing their strikes and demonstrations. The regime has sentenced Esmail Bakhshi, one of the organizers of last year’s protests, to 14 years in prison. Mohammad Khanifar, another Haft Tapeh workers, has been sentenced to six years in prison.
In a statement, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) called on "all labor unions, professional syndicates and labor activists to condemn the suppressive policies of the mullahs’ regime and support the legitimate rights of the workers in Iran."