By Niusha Saremi (source: Rooz Online)
Despite the promises made by president Hassan Rouhani’s first vice-president about a review of the arrested workers cases because of workers protests, arrests of miners belonging to the Chadormalu mining complex continue and have now topped 28 miners. The vice-president had promised that nobody would be arrested because of “issues related to their wages.”
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Iran’s labor news agency ILNA announced the arrest of 8 additional workers in the last three days (precisely after vice-president Ishaq Jahangiri’s announcement) and then spoke with Mohammad Saleh-Jowkar, the representative of the province of Yazd in the Majlis, the province where the mine is located. Jowkar objected to the actions of government officials and the judiciary of the township of Ardakan and said, “Dealing with the labor crisis related to workers from the Chadormalu mining company without considering the demands of the works is unacceptable. The demands of the protesting workers must be looked into and then a response must be provided to them or their demands must be met: there is no other way.”
He also advised local officials to take the demands of the Chadormalu workers seriously lest “they be accused of colluding with the contractor.”
A representative of the workers told ILNA that along with the new arrests a number of specialist workers returned to their jobs on Sunday because they had been promised that their arrested colleagues would be freed by Sunday evening. No news of their release have till this time been published or posted.
According to a report by the Chadormalu workers union, the security police of the Ardakan district was the agency responsible for the arrests of the workers. Since the first arrests, Hossein Jenayi, the head of the workers union of Toos Asphalt company (the contractor that provided the workers for the Chadormalu mines) and Bahram Hassaninejad, the secretary of the workers union of the mining company have also been arrested.
The website of the workers union also wrote, “Will the arrests of the workers stop with these arrests and the demands of the workers be silenced? Where are the officials to listen to the reasonable and legal calls of the workers and look into their demands? To what crimes must the workers respond? Are the protests of the workers to the unfulfillment of their legal rights and demands which have for the last 17 years not been fulfilled illegal acts?”
Chadormalu and Toos Asphalt
The iron ore mines of Chadormalu in Iran’s central desert, about 180 kilometers north east of the city of Yazd and about 300 kilometers south of Toos provide raw material for various steel production plants in Iran, thus playing an important role in the economy and industrial production of Iran. Ghanoon newspaper (which means the law in Persian) earlier last year published a report on a 400 billion Toman fraud case at the Chadormalu mining plant, which was subsequently denied.
The contractor that provides the labor needs of the mine is Toos Asphalt which has over 40 years of history.
As reported by ILNA, the roots of the protests at Chadormalu go back to November 27 when 800 miners at the plant launched a one-hour protest against “unreasonable wages” and the expulsion of Hassaninejad, the secretary of the workers union at the plant.
The local security bureau of Ardakan got involved in the issue and while accepting some of the demands of the workers prevented the return to work of the workers’ representative. As a result, some 2,000 workers from the Chadormalu mines went on strike for three days in the first week of last December. They argued that the expulsion of Hassaninejad was unlawful and was of no business to the security bureau.
Iran’s labor laws seem to categorically say that neither the workers nor the contractor have the right to unilaterally terminate a contract or the expulsion of workers is conditioned to an approval by the workers union of the plant.
Following that, the labor office of the town got involved and made positive promises to the workers, which resulted in the return of the workers to their stations. On January 28th however the labor office confirmed the expulsion order which resulted in a new round of protests by the workers. This time arrest warrants were issued.
Governor: The Wages of the Mining Workers Are Greater Than Those of Government Officials
Four days after the workers went on strike, the governor of Ardakan provincial district confirmed the arrest of 20 workers and added that this was the result of a complaint filed by the managing director of the mine. Governor Ahmad Kamali told the press that the wages that workers received at the plant were higher than the salaries of many government officials, and added that the workers’ actions were illegal and not in their own or the country’s interests. According to him, “A small group of agitators instigated the protests and I do not understand what benefit they derive from this. So long as there are legal channels to look into the workers’ protests, inciting workers to strike is not the right way to express their demands.”
Following these remarks, ILNA talked to vice-president Jahangiri who said that nobody could be imprisoned because of their salaries under the current administration.
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