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Steel Workers Protest in Southwestern Iran

Iranian workers gathering in front of parliament protesting new amendment for labor law, on Saturday November 19, 2016.

A group of steel workers in Iran’s southwestern province of Kohgiluyeh and Boyrahmad protested at the provincial administration office on May 23, demanding improvement of their pay and workplace safety.

A day earlier, an explosion at the same steel factory left nine workers injured. Iranian news agencies reported that six of the injured workers were transferred to the larger cities of Shiraz and Isfahan for treatment. Three of them suffered “100 percent burns and are in extremely serious condition,” the agencies reported.

According to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), workers attending the protest gathering complained about the “lack of minimal safety measures” at the factory. The workers also complained that the employer even ignored to extend their labor insurance recently. They also noted that their wages have not been paid for the past few months.

The same agencies reported a representative from the provincial administration showed up at the gathering of the workers and promised to deal with their demands as soon as possible.

In Iran, safety issues and unpaid wages frequently lead to local protests.

Iranian labor unions and activists are in constant arguments with the government and other state organs to protect labor rights, and some have ended up in prison.

On May 17, the Tasnim news agency quoted a high-level labor representative, Mohammad Yar Ahmadian, as saying the Labor Ministry puts pressure on workers’ organizations to ignore or deny rights violation issues.

“We receive a seal of approval from the authorities only when don’t deal with the difficulties workers face,” he said.

Yar Ahmadian also complained the government recently told them that the International Labor Organization had canceled the credentials of the Superior Labor Representatives’ Organization of Iran. He added that often individuals who attend ILO meetings on behalf of workers are not labor representatives.