Iran Arrests 4 at Ahwaz Workers Protests

Monday, 19 November, 2018 - 09:45
London - Asharq Al-Awsat

Iran security forces made four arrests against southwestern residents in Ahwaz city in light of a labor strike that affected both a steel manufacturer and sugar refinery, Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported.

For the eighth day in a row, worker demonstrations continued, driven by aggravated frustration against a backdrop of delayed salaries and administrative corruption.

The Haft Tappeh sugar factory in Shush, southwest Iran, and the Iran National Steel Industry Group (INSIG) are the two companies witnessing the strike.

AFP reported locals joining the demonstrations Sunday, without giving exact figures. Among the four arrested are two local workers' representatives and a female reporter, it added.

Iran has seen multiple strikes and protests in recent months over working conditions and unpaid wages in a range of sectors, including steel, education, mining and transport.

Haft Tappeh, which employs about 4,000 people, has been hit with several protests over mismanagement and alleged criminality since the firm was privatized in 2016.

The head of Iran's privatization organization Mir Ali Ashraf Pouri-Hosseini said Sunday that several board members had been arrested "over forex issues and other ambiguities,” according to the Hamshahri newspaper.

Haft Tappeh's managing director is "on the run", lawmaker Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini said following a meeting with the judiciary, according to IRNA.

There were reports the government was preparing to pay two months of delayed wages, but workers remained skeptical.

"For years we have repeatedly heard officials saying that our demands have been met but nothing has happened. We will continue our gatherings until it happens," an unnamed protester told the semi-official ILNA news agency.

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