Iranian Workers Steadfast in Demanding Their Rights – Nov. 30th thru Dec. 13th

ISICRC Reports

This is the fourth report in ISICRC’s continuing series on the national labor movement in Iran. Click here to read part 1, here for part 2, and here for part 3.

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November 30th – Today, the Haft Tappeh Sugar Agribusiness complex union workers issued a statement announcing union leader, Esmail Bakhshi’s arrest on November 20th. Bakhshi who had been severely beaten under while in custody, was transferred to a prison hospital. The statement said Bakhshi’s face was injured and he had abdominal bleeding. Typically, the Khuzestan provincial judiciary denied reports of any attacks on Bakhshi.

The Tehran bus drivers’ union issued a statement in support of the Haft Tappeh workers and called for Bakhshi’s immediate and unconditional release.

Esmail Bakhshi

December 1st – Employees of the Ahvaz steel complex protested today, on the 22nd day of their strike. The regime has claimed they paid the workers two months’ worth of back wages in recent days, but the union denied those claims, and responded by saying that no one has received anything, and that they refuse to return to work until they are paid all they are owed, which stretches back to over a year’s worth of wages.

December 2nd – Kiumars Kazemi, who was appointed the new director general of the Haft Tappeh sugar agribusiness complex, has offered to negotiate with the picketing workers. The union, however, refuses to negotiate until all of their detained members are freed. Today, the workers moved the scene of their protests, from outside Shush county chief’s office, to the factory floor itself. Kazemi then threatened that anyone who does not return to work would be fired.

December 4th – Ahvaz steel workers continued their strike, protesting today outside the Ahvaz Friday prayer leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Mousavi’s office. Family members had accompanied the workers and together they chanted: “Neither the Supreme Leader nor the regime, care about the nation!”

Asal Mohammadi, a freelance journalist, was arrested today in Ahvaz for reporting on the strikes.

Asal Mohammadi

December 6th – Esmail Bakhshi’s family were permitted to visit him in prison today. They reported that he has been beaten and severely tortured.

The family of Sepideh Ghaliyan, a journalist covering the strike, who was arrested along with Bakhshi, was also permitted to visit her; following which, they reported that she too had been severely tortured.

Ali Nejati

The Haft Tappeh workers union issued an appeal to all concerned activists around the globe to demand Bakhshi and Ghaliyan’s release. Ali Nejati, the former leader of the Haft Tappeh union, was arrested on November 29th, and there is still no news regarding where he is being detained and what condition he is in.

Fifteen employees of the Ilam petrochemical plant who were arrested after going on strike in June, were sentenced today to six months imprisonment and 74 lashes, each.

December 7th – On Iran’s national student day, 500 student activists sent an open letter to Hassan Rouhani protesting that more than 300 of their fellow students have been arrested and sentenced to prison terms and lashings this year. The activists mentioned that the atmosphere at Iranian universities has become stifling due to the ever-increasing heavy presence of intelligence ministry agents.

December 8th – The head of Iran’s poultry workers union, Hamid Fazeli, stated today that the price of chicken has become so exorbitant throughout the country, rendering it unaffordable for most people. As a result, one million poultry workers are now at risk of losing their jobs.

Seven hundred workers of the Pegah milk factory in Tehran protested over 150,000 square meters of land the workers owned as a cooperative that had been illegally grabbed by the IRGC. The workers mentioned that they are struggling to pay monthly rents to the IRGC on land that they legally own, and that they had made several complaints to the judiciary but each time the courts refused to hear their case.

Students at various universities, including those of Tehran, Semnan, Kermanshah, and Tabriz, held sit-ins today in support of the various ongoing strikes.

December 11th – Five Tehran bus drivers who have been on strike were arrested in the middle of the night and then released today.

The Ahvaz steel workers protested today, dressed in white death shrouds, signalling their readiness to die in order to attain their goals. Their banners, also written in English, read: “the government is urinating on our lives, but the media says it’s raining.”

A mass gathering of workers in Tehran protested the arrests today outside the Majles, as well as expressing their solidarity with the Ahvaz steel and Haft Tappeh workers.

A mass gathering of workers in Tehran protested the arrests today outside the Majles, as well as expressing their solidarity with the Ahvaz steel and Haft Tappeh workers.

In Tehran also, a large number of workers gathered outside the Islamic Parliament (Majles) in order to protest not only the arrest of their fellow workers but to also express solidarity with the Ahvaz steel and Haft Tappeh workers.

Teachers also began a two-day national sit-in across the country, the third such two day sit-in in three months. This time students joined their protest. One gathering today at Tehran’s Amir Kabir University was violently broken up by Basij paramilitary forces.

December 12th – Esmail Bakhshi was released on bail.

Workers at Imam Khomeini port in Khuzestan went on strike over non-payment of wages.

Farmers in Esfahan province protested over the province’s diversion of their water supply, causing them to live under drought-like conditions.

Unemployed youth protested in Rafsanjan demanding jobs. The presence of a large number of foreign workers and employees at the Sar Cheshmeh copper mine and smelter in the region, while so many inhabitants are without work, has particularly enraged the protesters.

Teachers continued their sit-in for a second day, with protesters in Hamedan clashed with regime security forces.

World renowned Iranian film director Jafar Panahi uploaded a YouTube video today in support of the various picketing workers.

December 13th  – The UK Trade Union Congress tweeted its solidarity with Esmail Bakhshi, and demanded the release of Ali Nejati.

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