IUF calls on ILO to help secure wage arrears for hungry sugar workers in Iran
The IUF has called for the urgent intervention of the ILO to help secure unpaid wages owed the 5,000 workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar complex in Shush, Iran. Workers last received their wages in March.
While the workers and their families go hungry, the owner is on trial in Tehran, accused of obtaining from the government some 1.4 billion U.S. dollars in scarce hard currency, ostensibly destined for investment in the company, and selling it on the open market at 3 times the price.
Since June, workers have been holding daily peaceful demonstrations at the governor's office in Shush to demand their wages. Work continues in the cane fields. There has been no factory production since June, but the workers are in limbo; the mill has not officially ceased production, although the gates are guarded by security.
Workers and family members have been infected with the coronavirus which continues to spread while the government has officially admitted to drastically underreporting the number of infections. Workers and their families have no access to health services as their social security contributions have not been paid by the employer.
The IUF has also warned of the real potential for state violence, particularly now that the Haft Tapeh workers have been joined by tens of thousands of oil and gas workers on strike over months of unpaid wages, among other issues.
In 2008, following a mass strike over months of unpaid wages, the workers formed a union which is affiliated to the IUF. Neither the employer nor the government has recognized the union, whose elected leaders have been imprisoned, dismissed and blacklisted