Security agents have arrested two labor activists near Rasht in Gilan province and taken them to an undisclosed location, an Iranian workers’ union has reported.
The arrests followed workers’ protests across Gilan, Mazandaran and Golestan provinces, with over 3,000 workers demanding to be paid. Some said they had not been paid their wages for 15 months.
”The workers and their families are in a very bad situation,” the chairman for the Assembly of Workers for Mazandaran province told the Iranian Labour News Agency. He said 2,000 Forests, Range and Watershed Management Organization employees had worked tirelessly for four months in the northern forests of the province as part of a scheme to support wood and paper production industries, including the businesses Azar Rud, Kar Sangroud, Anarestan, Choub Frame and Nekachoub, among others. As of October 19, they had still not been paid, he said.
Authorities had targeted one of the arrested men, Saeed Rezaei, in the past because of his activism. He was arrested at an International Workers' Day rally outside Iranian parliament in 2019.
The Free Union of Iranian Workers said agents arrested brothers Saeed Rezaei and Ehsan Rezaei at their parents’ house in the town of Rudsar on 19 October. They also threatened to arrest their mother, Marzieh Doroud, but abandoned their pursuit after her husband asked to see a warrant. The agents said they would return to the property once they had obtained a court order for the arrest.
Union representatives said no government agency was taking responsibility for the unpaid wages, and it was the regulating authority’s job to ensure the workers were paid. They added that a change in government had exacerbated the problem. Many of the workers had not been paid as Hassan Rouhani’s term as president came to a close, and the problem had continued with the establishment of of Ebrahim Raisi’s new administration.
During this period, workers’ insurance premiums have also not been paid.
Construction Workers in Gilan and Municipal Staff in Golestan Also Unpaid
Two hundred Kariz Construction employees working on the Manjil-Rasht freeway tunnel near Rudbar in Gilan also went went on strike on Saturday, October 16 after not being paid for four months.
The construction workers said they should have been paid by the Ministry of Roads, which entrusted the construction of the project to Atarodian, a large contracting company that subcontracted Kariz to do the job.
Employees for Kordkoy municipality in Golestan province have also not received their salaries for a month. The governor of the city described the situation as chaotic and said the head of the municipality had not been able to solve the issue, prompting frustration among the workforce. "A number of municipal workers went to the city governor's office and protested against the fact that municipal officials received their full pay and even overtime, while they have still not been paid.”
Shafarood Dam workers have also expressed disgust at not being paid for their work since May. Approximately 900 workers gathered outside their employers’ headquarters demanding to be paid.
Although the arrests in Rasht were the only reported instances of unrest, the growing number of protests across this stretch of northern Iran indicates that conditions for laborers in the country have not changed in the first few months of the new Raisi administration.
The Free Union of Iranian Workers condemned the arrest of Saeed Rezaei and Ehsan Rezaei, calling for their immediate release. They also condemned the targeting of their mother, Marzieh Doroud.
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