Follow-Up on Report of Sugar Workers Strike in Iran

Ali Kiani

Summary: Workers at Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane factory, women and men, gain support from other working people for their strike — Editors

In the 13th day of the strike at the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane factory, workers walked with their families to the governor’s office. They were supported by solidarity from the teachers’ union, workers of the steel factory and retired workers of the Haft Tapeh factory. The governor promised that if the workers went back to work, they would be paid for two months’ pay of delayed wages. This promise was not kept and increased the workers’ anger.

In accordance with the privatization policy of the government towards state owned enterprises this factory was given to a friend of a deputy of President Rouhani. And after a number of strikes and a gathering of workers opposing this decision, the owner disappeared with all the financial assets of the factory which delayed workers’ pay for several months and the workers decided to take over the factory in order to be run by a workers’ council.

The representative of the workers union in a speech at the rally attacked the President and his cabinet, saying that instead of helping workers they were protecting the owner. He demanded the prosecution of the management which was responsible for this.

During the past years the new generation of young workers became the progressive force of workers’ struggles and they are leading the other workers in the State of Khuzestan. One of the representatives of their union, Esmail Bakhshi, a natural leader who speaks from the heart for the interest of working class, was arrested— along with another leader, Mohsen Bromand. Their strike includes anti-capitalist slogans such as: we don’t trust capitalists; the less capitalist corruption the better for workers; while capitalists are enjoying their drink the workers’ blood is boiling; our representative in congress should resign; we are hungry and we are angry because of high inflation and high prices; the President should answer to the workers; the workers will not accept exploitation and will fight to the death.

One of the recent demands of the strike was workers control through a workers’ council. The leader of the workers said before he was arrested that if the government didn’t hold the capitalists responsible they would prosecute the government. He also mentioned government corruption and thanked steel workers for joining them with their solidarity. He demanded further the prosecution of all officials in the State of Khuzestan.

He also said that whatever the government says about the crisis of capitalists and their bad economical situation, this has nothing to do with workers and is directly the result of bad decision making of the capitalist class. So, there is no reason and justification for putting pressure on workers and the workers would not allow reduction for even one worker to be laid off. The only solution is a workers’ council in order to replace the management. For that the unity of all workers is necessary.

In the same gathering one of the woman workers spoke and asked all the workers of the country to join them. Although the governor asked for troops to end the 13-day-strike, more women joined the gathering in front of the governor’s office.

Because of the solidarity of people of the city with the workers, more troops were sent to the city. The leader of the workers, Esmail Bakhshi, is a poor worker and lives with his wife and daughter in a small room in his father’s house. He is the voice of the workers.

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