Iran: Massacre of copper plant workers provokes widespread strikes

Armed forces in Iran opened fire on a peaceful demonstration of copper foundry workers and their families on 23 January, killing fifteen and injuring 300.

The Khaton Abad plant workers, from near Baback city, in Kerman province, were protesting against low pay and the sacking of fellow workers.

The Khaton Abad workforce went on strike on 18 January and took their grievances to the local authorities. They got no response and so decided to march in Baback city. They explained that the official poverty line is 300,000 toman (the Iranian currency), but that Khaton Abad workers receive only 70,000 toman.

The Iranian government would not concede to the workers’ requests but were unable to stop the protests. Their policy was then to order the shooting of workers and their families.

Widespread protests followed the massacre and they are continuing. Other workers in Baback went on strike in solidarity. As at the time of writing, Baback city is at a standstill.

Clashes between workers and the state forces continue. According to the online ‘Arab Times’, (01/02/04): “Four people were killed and many others seriously injured when security forces clashed with striking workers at a copper factory in South Eastern Iran, an MP said Sunday. Mansur Soleymanni Meymandi told parliament that helicopters carrying special police units were sent in to break up the protests in the village of Khatunabad, near Shahrebabak, in south eastern Kerman province.

“Workers had downed tools a few days earlier to support their demands for permanent contracts, the reformist deputy said. Special Forces attacked the village and the clashes spread to Shahrebabak, where four people were killed, he said.

“Trade unions have no bargaining power in Iran, where the right to strike does not exist”

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February 2004