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Iranian miners fired after protest action

30 January, 2020300 workers at the Chadormalu iron ore mine have been fired after protesting low wages and wage discrimination against contractors.

The Chadormalu iron ore mine in the central Iranian province of Yazd employs about 5,000 workers, mostly through a series of independent contractors. On 25 January, 300 workers employed through the independent contractor Bahavand Barad walked out in protest just as their contracts were due to be renewed.

The workers had been planning to form a union to address low wages and an unjust occupational classification plan that discriminates against contract workers. After the walk out, the contractor fired the workers. The protests at the mine are ongoing.

Another group of 300 workers, employed through the Hatami contractor, protested against the incorrect classification of jobs and discrimination between direct and contract workers, which have resulted in a reduction in their earnings compared to direct employees.

They were also protesting against provincial labour department officials siding with the employer. The workers had been waiting for job classification for more than 19 months. When it was applied incorrectly, it resulted in a relative reduction in their pay.

The content of the occupational classification plan for contracted out and direct employees is the same. However, a direct employee with the same qualifications and skill level is paid between 10 and 15 per cent more than a contract worker for doing the same job.

IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate in Iran, the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI), released a solidarity statement, saying:

“Neglecting and ignoring the workers’ demands by the provincial authorities and the labour department officials have endangered the livelihood of 300 workers and their families who have been struggling with unemployment and hunger.

“In Yazd, the provincial and labour department officials, hand in hand with the anti-worker employer, do not tolerate the workers’ right to establish their independent trade unions because they intend to impose illegal requests on workers.”

IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches wrote a letter of support to UMMI, saying:

“...rather than employing workers directly and taking full responsibility as a main and responsible employer, they resort to a network of human resources companies and contractors that profit handsomely and unscrupulously on the back of workers.

“Therefore, IndustriALL Global Union urges the Iranian government to act without delay to ensure that the Chadormalu Mining & Industrial Co., which owns the Chadormalu mine, reinstate all the workers immediately, stop subcontracting workers and instead employ them directly and guarantee decent working conditions in the mine.”

The mine has faced industrial relations conflicts in the past, with 20 striking mineworkers arrested in 2014.