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Iran: Ahwazi port workers protest at non-payment of wages

Ahwazi port workers have clashed with police in recent days during protests at the non-payment of wages.

Hundreds of workers employed at port facilities and ship building industries in Mohamareh (Khorammshahr) and Abadan, situated on the left bank of the Shatt Al-Arab waterway, are complaining that their wages are months in arrears. In the past week, they have protested outside the offices of the provincial governor demanding action and have staged three-day strikes. Instead of respecting their right to lawful protest, trade union membership and labour rights, port owners have sacked those who have protested against non-payment.

The Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA) has reported hundreds of job losses of protesting workers at Mohamereh port facilities (click for further details). This includes 20 workers employed by Armin Gostar in Abadan who were sacked for protesting against non-payment of wages and lack of labour rights, according to ILNA.

Employees of Jangineh Brick Baking Factory have also staged protests outside the governor's office in Ahwaz, the provincial capital, claiming they had not been paid for 12 months and had not received annual bonuses for two years.

Nasser Bani Assad, spokesman for the British Ahwazi Friendship Society, said: "Mahmoud Ahmadinejad came to power proclaiming that he would tackle corruption and poverty. Under his administration, the situation facing Ahwazi workers is worsening. Instead of backing the workers, he is calling out the troops to repress them. If they refuse to work, they lose their jobs. This is not an option in a region like Ahwaz (Khuzestan), where unemployment is high, particularly among ethnic Arabs.

"After months of wage arrears many feel they have nothing to lose by going on strike and taking to the streets in protest. Workers are struggling to feed their families and pay for housing. Yet, the Ahwaz region is one of the most oil rich in the world. The oil revenue is going straight into the pockets of the mullahs while workers are forced into virtual slavery. Iran is breaking international labour codes and should be chastised by the international community for its poor treatment of workers."