An oil field worker has killed himself in Khuzestan province after not being paid, local media has reported to IranWire.
Omran Roshani Moghaddam, an employee for Nazm Afarin Iman [the Faithful Creator of Order], which is contracted to carry out security guard work on an oil field in the city of Hoveyzeh, died on June 10. His co-workers said he had been having financial problems and had not been paid.
"He was unable to make a living, and this led to his decision to take his own life," they said.
Abbas Jalali, the head of the Hoveyzeh Labor Office, arrived at the oil field to investigate what happened on June 10."Inspectors for the Labor Office and I are on-site at the moment, and we’re trying to find out the reasons for the incident,” he told the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA). We have talked to his colleagues and the contractor employer." Jalali said it was not yet clear why Roshani Moghaddam would have killed himself.
"The deceased worker was not at work for a month in April, and returned to work on April 30, and signed his contract with his employer on May 1," he added. As a Nazm Afarin employee, Roshani Moghaddam would have helped guard the oil field and its facilities.
What do the Workers Say?
Roshani Moghaddam’s co-workers said he was under financial pressure and simply did not have the money to buy what he needed for his family. “He tried to get a 500,000-toman [US$29] loan, but was not successful,” one colleague said. "The current contracting company has been operating for about five years, and has reduced salaries during these years. Our income is less than [it would be] elsewhere.
"We have been working for many years at Yadavaran oil field," he added. "In the last few months, the contractor gave us a new contract that we all had to sign. Unfair clauses deprived us of many benefits, such as bad weather allowance. It was mostly to the detriment of the worker and to the benefit of the contractor. It said, with the slightest excuse, the contractor was allowed to fire us. We refused to sign it, but the pressure on us increased day by day. We informed everyone but no one supported us.”
He added that they had filed complaints with the governor’s office and the city’s labor office. “We even had a meeting at the Hoveyzeh governor’s office with the deputy governor, an intelligence officer and the head of the Hoveyzeh Labor Office, but we got no results, we couldn’t guarantee our rights. Nazm Afarin Iman [the company] would not budge and we had to sign the contract."
"This year, we have only been paid once,” the colleague said. “Our May salaries have not been paid yet."
Another employee stated that after years of working for the company, they were told that they had to sign a six-month contract. If the employers were happy with their work, they could continue working. "There was a blank sheet on the contract," he said. "About half of the workers signed it."
Labor Office Denies Reasons for Suicide
Abbas Jalali of the Hoveyzeh County Labor Office said reports published online about what happened had not been officially confirmed. "Some people on social media claim that this person committed suicide due to the new contract and non-payment of salaries,” he said, but dismissed the accuracy of such reports.
Jalali said that Omran Roshani Moghaddam had signed the new contract. "About 180 staff members signed the contract, which is being looked into. It will be verified through the General Directorate of Labor. A number of workers did not sign the contract, and according to a review of the Labor Office's website, clauses in the contract were flawed and had no legal or executive authority."
He added that the meetings between the deputy governor and the employer had determined that the contracts were not viable, and that they had not been signed off by the labor department in Khuzestan, the General Directorate of Labor. “They did not approve the agreement,” Jalali said.
He confirmed that about 50 workers had demonstrated against the contract, and said a new contract was then approved by the General Directorate. "After a week, all the staff signed the contract and returned to work in peace."
Writing about the suicide of Omran Roshani Moghadam's on social media, he said: "There has been a lot of controversy about the cause of the suicide of the deceased. These claims are not true, and the necessary investigations have not yet been carried out.” But then he went on to confirm what one employee had said, that the 250-strong workforce had not been paid in May.
“The city's labor office will prepare its report. The judiciary and the governorate are also pursuing this issue,” Jalali said.
Khuzestan’s Department of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare also issued a statement saying its director general had also ordered an investigation. It promised to “follow up on this issue in the shortest possible time” and said the director general would “personally pursue this matter” until the details of what happened could be verified.
Company CEO Claims his Employee was Suffering from Drug Addiction
But the CEO of the Iman Order Manufacturing Company, who has been named only as Mr Hejazi, insisted that there was more to Roshani Moghaddam’s suicide than unsatisfactory contracts and unpaid wages. He said Roshani Moghaddam had been suffering from drug addiction and had had time off work to deal with it, and had returned to work after his recovery. "No written request for a loan was received," he said. "Many of the personnel who applied for a loan in writing were paid. In April of this year, the family of the person who committed suicide announced his intention to treat his addiction. We told him and his family that he could return to work after quitting. After a month at work and an addiction test at the Novin Sanat Occupational Medicine Center, he tested negative and he returned to work in May. He was only not paid for one month."
He also rejected what his other employees had said. "The blank page of the contract was a lie and the workers' salaries were paid on time. We did not force anyone to sign a contract, and their salaries were paid in accordance with the law. Some people are trying to create tension.”
The CEO also indicated that the company had acted responsibly toward its employees at a challenging time. “Although we have not received any money from Sinopec Company since November last year, we paid the workers' salaries until the end of April. Sinopec has been back in China since November last year due to the coronavirus outbreak and we have not received any money from them. But the workers' salaries have been paid, though we were not able to pay the May salaries."
Hejazi said evidence of these payments could be tracked through the provincial labor office. “Our company is one of the few companies that has paid New Year's bonuses, benefits, and workers' salaries on a regular basis."
He said the company paid the workers' wages in recent months by borrowing and selling equipment and that they were all paid their New Year bonus and benefits despite what had been happening with the economy over the last few months.
But all the employees that talked to the media had a similar story, of difficult conditions and a stressful environment. "The young man's story is that, given the institution's very low and insignificant salaries — which do not even cover a week's cost of living — he contacted the company after a two-month delay in payment and told them that he no longer had anything to give to his wife and children, and that he was unable to provide bread for them,” one of Roshani Moghaddam’s co-workers said. “But their response was that it did not have the money to pay the salaries. Unfortunately he took the decision to commit suicide, and hanged himself from a F-19 oil well."