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More Labor Protests Show Pains Of Privatization In Iran

Iran - Mahshahr: contract workers on strike in a petrochemical project in Mahshahr.

According local media in Iran, labor protests have gained momentum again in different parts of the country.

Despite attempts by security forces to end the demonstrations, workers were actively participating in peaceful assemblies, demanding their overdue wages.

A group of workers at the Persian Gulf International Transport Company gathered in front of the Labor, and Social Welfare Ministry on October 23 to protest privatization of the company and demanding unpaid salaries, the Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) reported.

“The management of the Persian Gulf International Transport Company was transferred to the private sector in May 2016 and the payment of our wages and insurance premiums has since been in shambles,” ILNA quoted the protesters as saying.

Furthermore, the protesters asserted that nearly 1,200 workers had either not received overtime bonuses or received them with considerable delay.

Earlier, workers at several industrial complexes in Iran, including privatized companies like Hepco, Poly Acryl, a ball bearing factory, Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane and Azarab, had also called for the companies to be returned to the public sector.

Workers usually complain that privatized companies are not paying wages regularly.

However, Rouhani’s administration has so far ignored these demands and still insists on shrinking the government’s work force by promoting the privatization of public plants and factories.

Problems are created when private owners fail to properly downsize an enterprise. Instead of legally paying off unneeded workers and reducing workforce, the privatized company, without government subsidies, is unable to pay people regularly.

In other instances, the private buyer is simply not interested in investing and improving production, rather the real purpose of purchasing a government owned enterprise is to strip it down and use the land for construction.

Workers at Rampco Project, a subdivision of Bu Ali Sina (Avicenna) Petrochemical Complex, also peacefully assembled to demand three months’ overdue wages and salaries.

Employees of HEPCO Protest In Front Of The Governor's Office In City Of Arak
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Nevertheless, the director of public relations at Bu Ali Sina , Ebrahim Gholamshahi, insisted that Rampco Project is run by private contractors and has no direct relation to its mother company.

However, Gholamshahi maintained that as soon as they were informed of the problem, managers were attempting to address workers’ demands.

Furthermore, Iran’s Free Trade Union reports that 170 workers at Shakhiss company, a contractor for Bandar Imam Petrochemical Complex, went on strike on October 21 and 22 to protest not receiving bonuses for their hard work in a disagreeable climate.

The government’s official news agency, IRNA, also reported that 400 workers at the South Pars Natural gas field in Asaluyeh, southern Iran, went on strike on October 22 to protest overdue wages and salaries.

The strike was later ended when contractors promised to address the problem.

Moreover, ILNA reported that nearly 1,000 industrial workers, forest rangers and pensioners of Mazandaran wood and paper mill went on strike on Sunday. They assembled at the factory’s compound demanding their two-month overdue wages and salaries.

In the meantime, workers at Hepco industrial unit in the city of Arak are also struggling to receive their overdue wages. They have held several rallies in the past few years to call for help.

In a peaceful rally in front of the governor-general’s office, Hepco workers were carrying a banner, declaring, “No Compromise, No Submission – Combat until Victory.”

In one of the video clips published on social media, protesters are heard chanting slogans, shouting, “Poor workers don’t deserve to be battered.”