Over 20 striking miners and their leaders have been arrested in Iran despite their action being legal – even under the repressive political environment and labour legislation of the country.
IndustriALL Global Union has been informed that in Iran security forces have arrested over 20 workers of the Chadormalu Mine in the central province of Yazd, including the head and the secretary of the labor union, who stopped work as part of a contract negotiation and labor dispute.
For several months, more than 3,000 workers have been demanding a pay increase in line with inflation rate as well as overtime pay which had been unpaid for four months. Bahram Hassaninejad, the secretary of the workers’ labor union, was dismissed from his job during earlier protests over this issue in November 2013. The protest grew wider after Hassaninejad’s dismissal, and his return to work became another demand in addition to the pay increase and back pay.
On January 26, the Ardakan Labor Office Determination Committee confirmed Hassaninejad’s dismissal orders, sparking new protests among the mine workers. Thousands of the mine workers downed tools on January 28 in protest of the dismissal, as well as in continuation of the pay demands. On January 29, security forces summoned and arrested 20 workers who the Governor implied had been instrumental in launching the initial protests. The remaining workers continued their sit-in, and on January 30, four additional workers from among those who were holding a sit-in at the factory site were also arrested. The following day union leaders, Hossein Jenaee and Bahram Hassaninejad were arrested by Ardakan town security organizations.
It is reported that the Chadormalu mine workers are paid between US$205 and US$240 monthly, whereas the authorities have previously stated workers should get paid between US$512 and US$682. The workers of this mine demanded a pay increase that was compatible with the inflation rate in Iran. Additionally, they have not been paid their hardship and other benefits for the past four months.
Jyrki Raina, General Secretary of Industriall Global Union General Secretary, in his letter addressed to Hassan Rouhani, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran:
“We are appalled to hear of the arrests of these mine workers and their union leaders and call on you to immediately order their release as well as the payment of all delayed payments. We urge you to ensure that negotiations over a substantial increase in wages to ensure both a living wage and compensation for rising costs take place as a matter of urgency.”
IndustriALL Global Union continues to follow developments in Iran and develops contacts with various union organizations operating in the country.