The blog HOPI Ireland Discussion reported thousands of Haft Tapeh sugar cane workers marched through Shush on May 17. The 3,000 marchers, were joined along the way by local people, swelling their ranks to 5,000. After first gathering outside the Governor’s Office at 8.00 a.m., they then marched with their families and supporters, towards the city centre. The slogans included: “Livelihood and dignity is our certain right,” “Legal cases must be closed,” “Head of security must be fired,” and “Haft-Tapeh workers are hungry.”
Around 11.30 a.m. the security forces attacked the marchers with tear gas.
Three days later, 6000 took to the streets. At one point the workers blocked the main highway in the area.
On May 26th a large number of workers went to the Governor General's office in Shush and began demonstrating. Their numbers swelled by the minute.
Then the security forces and the special guard attacked the protesting workers in front of the Governor General's office. They arrested twelve workers and took them to an undisclosed location.
Last week workers gathered in the industrial complex on their 28th day of strike. They shouted, "Workers will die but will not give to humiliation," "Our monthly salary is our inalienable right" and "Job and life are our inalienable rights." Several thousand protesting workers marched toward the building of the factory's management.
Afraid of agents of the clerical regime getting their names,the workers refused a request by the management to send their representatives for negotiations. They said that they would only accept the management's offer if all workers could attend.
The demand of Haft-Tapeh sugar cane workers are as follows:
- Release of arrested workers and the dropping of all charges against theme and other labour activists;
- The setting up of an independent syndicate (trade union);
- Payment of three months unpaid wages;
- The sacking of the general manger of the company, a mullah called Yaghoob Shafiee, and the whole management committee;
- The sacking company's security chief, Zibdari;
- An end to legal proceedings against the workers.
A statement of solidarity by workers of Ahvaz Pipe Manufacturing Company in Iran reads:
In the name of God, the great nation of Iran and workers
Fourteen days have passed since the strike of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industrial Company workers began. Yet again the military and security forces have, unfortunately, instead of confronting the economically corrupt elements and the sugar mafia, attacked our dear countrymen with truncheons and tear gas in Shush city. They even showed no mercy towards their wives and children. And at a time when the officials of the Islamic Republic are always criticising the Israeli government for various reasons, especially for its attacks on children and women, and by always showing scenes [of these attacks] try to defend the people of Palestine and Lebanon.
But during the past few days when, together with their wives and children, the workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation Company came on to streets of Shush to get justice and their rights and were [chanting] the slogan "We are hungry"; the security forces responded to the demand of "Military brother, support us, support us" by firing tear gas [canisters]. Shame on you who attack women and children, who had no demand other than to get their legal rights, in this way.
The worker who had never said that he wanted to overthrow the system; the worker who never thought of causing a disturbance; the worker who does not shirk from any effort to keep the wheels of the Iranian economy turning; the worker who gives his all in the unbearable heat of Khuzestan; the worker who is from the family of [an Iran-Iraq war] martyr; the worker whose family goes through the night hungry; the worker who is a war veteran with chemical [weapon] injuries; but for getting his rights is attacked with a truncheon and sent to hospital.
We, the workers of Ahvaz Pipe Manufacturing Company, who have not been paid for several months and are in a similar situation to the workers of Haft Tapeh, declare our support for the legal protests of the Haft Tapeh workers, condemn the repressive action and demand an end to the gathering of legal dossiers against Haft Tapeh workers.
The following is from Iran Labor Rights.
Security forces brutally confronted protesting workers of Haft Tapeh
Hundreds of Haft Tapeh Sugar Factory workers who took their protests to the streets of Shoush in Khouzistan province on June 10, 2008 were brutally confronted by law enforcement and security forces.
They were beaten and arrested, however the number of arrestees is not clear.
Haft Tapeh workers have limited their protests by gathering in front of the management offices of the company, following another brutal confrontation by security forces three weeks ago, when the workers along with their families staged a widespread rally in the city of Shoush.
The new wave of Haft Tapeh protests started on May 5, 2008 with no results so far.
Thousands of workers in Haft Tapeh have not received their wages for the past three months. They also want to establish an independent workers union, they call for the resignation of the director and security director of the company and an end to the prosecution of Haft Tapeh labour activists.