Statement of the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran
During the past few days, we have witnessed the plundering by the government of workers’ savings in the Social Security Fund, while Osman Esmaili, a painter and decorator, Mohammad Habibi, a teacher and member of the Executive Board of Tehran Teachers’ Association and ten protesting workers of the National Iranian Steel Industrial Company in Ahvaz city were unlawfully and violently arrested. These events are taking place during the closing days of the Iranian calendar year (21 March 2017- 20 March 2018) and coincide with the announcement of the national minimum wage at the New Year.
Whose interests were threatened by Osman Esmaili that he was dispatched to jail?
What was in the teaching of Mohammad Habibi at the conservatoire that he deserved to be arrested using pepper spray and beatings and imprisoned?
Have workers of the National Iranian Steel Industrial Company in Ahvaz city asked for anything other than their wages? Are the officials who have issued arrest warrants for these people able to go without their salaries for months that they have issued warrants for the steelworkers of Ahvaz?
The attack on our brothers, who are merely demanding their wages and salaries stolen by the embezzlers and unscrupulous managers, is an illogical and unreasonable response contrary to national interests. Instead of dealing in this way with workers who have been starving and penniless for months, those responsible for creating this social disorder through their policies should themselves have been arrested so that chaos and mayhem are not perpetuated in society.
We call on the Ahvaz Judiciary to release immediately the following ten arrested Ahvaz Steel Company workers: Farhad Akbarian, Mortaza Akbarian, Meytham Ali Ghanavati, Amin Momenpour, Hossein Nisi, Bagher Delphi, Taghi Hassanzadeh, Hadi Afravi, Mehdi Adelzadeh and one other. We also demand the release of Mohammad Habibi, Osman Esmaili, Reza Shahabi and other trade union and social activists.
We now declare that those who have issued the arrest warrants, together with the jailers of these workers and also of Mohammad Habibi and Osman Esmaili, are responsible for their safety and security.
Ahvaz Steel Workers, Brothers and Sisters!
According to Article 3 of the Labour Code, “managers and responsible officials, and, in general, all those who are responsible for the workplace are considered as employer’s representatives, and the employer is responsible for all the obligations that the representatives assume in relation to the worker.” Therefore, the Provincial Governor and the Head of the Ahvaz Provincial Court, as representatives of the government, are responsible for paying your unpaid and delayed wages.
Your protests are also legitimate and legal. Article 27 of the Constitution allows the whole nation to organise and participate in rallies, strikes and protests, and no person or institution can deprive the people of Iran of this right. Those who deny this right violate the law and must be brought to justice.
The Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran continues to stand with you and does not hesitate to render you any kind of assistance in reclaiming your social and legal rights and will use all its strength and the resources at its disposal to provide you with legal support.
We salute the workers of National Iranian Steel Industrial Company in Ahvaz city
For the strengthening of the unity of all trade union and social activists!
The Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran
3 March 2018