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New protest by Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers
The workers of the Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company’s factory began a new protest on Friday August 7. Following concerns about overtime pay being discontinued, the workers began the latest stage of their struggle when protesting workers started to whistle. The workers have refused to use the punch cards to record their attendance and have chanted slogans against the official in charge of the time keeping system. The protest is directed against the contemptuous bosses and the Ministry of Industries and Mines.
The workers’ demands are as follows:
1 - To implement the job classification system and increase wages and entitlements.
2 - To solve the problem of overtime (as workers have problems with the method and rate of overtime payments);
3 - ‘Punching in’ and ‘punching out’. This has not been normal practice at the Haft Tapeh plantation and factory complex and is now causing problems for workers. For example, on Fridays during the harvest season, workers would go home after ten o’clock. But with the introduction of the card system, on Fridays they have to stay at work until the end of office hours. As a result, they have been deprived of the only opportunity they have of spending time with their families.
4 - An end to the sacking of temporary workers. Through the union’s efforts these workers were to be taken on as official staff, but now they have been threatened with dismissal by the order of higher authorities.
Reza Rakhshan, a member of the Haft Tapeh trade union, said in an interview with the ILNA agency that “the Ministry of Industries and Mines, as the factory owner, intends to abolish overtime” and that “abolishing overtime will severely cut workers’ pay”. Rakhshan has also said that he had heard that following pressure by the Ministry to abolish overtime, as well as the workers’ opposition to this, the general manager of Haft Tapeh had recently resigned.
When the representatives of the management-selected Islamic Labour Council (ILC) tried to intervene in this dispute, the workers, by questioning who had voted and elected them, did not allow them to interfere. The Haft Tapeh ILC was formed last month after management selected administrative staff and engineers as its members and the workers had no knowledge of any elections taking place.
The workers of Haft Tapeh have been struggling for better pay, conditions and union recognition since October 2007.
Iranian Workers’ Solidarity Network
15 August 2009