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Iran Cracks Down on Ahvaz Steel Mill Workers

Iran Cracks Down on Ahvaz Steel Mill Workers

Wednesday, 19 December, 2018 - 09:15
People protest in Tehran, Iran December 30, 2017 in this picture obtained from social media. REUTERS.
London - Asharq Al-Awsat
For the second day in a row, Iranian authorities on Tuesday detained a number of steel mill workers after five weeks of protests over delays in salaries.

The factory of the state-owned National Iranian Steel Group in Ahvaz, the capital of southwestern Khuzestan province, was founded in early 1960s and has nearly 4,000 workers. It was privatized in 2008 but following financial problems, its ownership returned to a government bank in 2016.

The head of the Iranian workers union said that the authorities arrested 10 workers on Tuesday, raising the number of laborers detained since the launch of a campaign of arrest against them at dawn Monday, to 41.

On Wednesday, the head of the Iranian parliament's labor faction, Alireza Mahjoub, said in a speech to lawmakers, that the arrests were in “violation of the constitution.”

He called on parliament to intervene to free the arrested workers.

The arrests came despite pledges made by the Iranian authorities to improve the living conditions of the steel mill laborers.

“Iran’s regime arrested steelworkers who simply asked to get paid for their work. Sadly, this is how the regime has always mistreated the Iranian people,” said Robert Palladino, the US State Department’s deputy spokesperson, on Twitter Monday.

“The US supports their rightful demands. Iranians deserve to live in peace and dignity,” he added.

Iran is in the grip of an economic crisis and has seen sporadic protests in recent months as officials try to downplay the effects of the newly restored US sanctions on Tehran.

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