IndustriALL Global Union has written a letter of solidarity to the President of Iran urging the government to improve safety in Iranian mines after at least 35 miners were killed and scores injured in a coal mine explosion on 3 May.
The deadly blast took place as workers were changing shifts at the Zemestanyurt mine in Golestan, a province in northeastern Iran. Rescue operations to save more miners trapped in the mine’s 1,000 metre deep shaft have reportedly been hampered by tunnels filled with poisonous gasses.
In a letter to President Hassan Rouhani, IndustriALL’s general secretary, Valter Sanches, called on the Government of Iran to urgently ratify ILO Convention 176 on Health and Safety in Mines, as well as implement the ILO Code of Practice on Safety and Health in Underground Coal Mines.
Sanches also offered IndustriALL’s help to improve safety in Iranian mines:
“IndustriALL Global Union is prepared to offer technical assistance, through the solid expertise of its coal mining trade unions worldwide - in addition to any technical assistance your Government may wish to request from the International Labour Organization (ILO) - to put in place stringent health and safety standards at all mining operations in Iran.”
Lack of adequate health and safety standards in Iran have led to previous mining disasters. In 2013, 11 miners lost their lives in two separate mining accidents, and in 2009, 20 workers were killed in various incidents.
The Zemestanyurt coal mine employs around 500 workers. In 2016, Iran extracted 1.68 million tons of coal, and output is mostly used in domestic steel production.