Iranian workers have reached the undeniable conclusion that the solution to their misery and economic grievances can only be found with the removal of this regime. Writes Hossein Beizayi
The history of mining in the world goes back to 20,000 to 40,000 years ago. With the development of the Mediterranean civilization, mining became one of the most critical industries in the world.
As time passed and more technological advancements were discovered and developed, the mining industry also benefited from it. More effective mining methods were employed, and to safeguard the safety of the miners, more protocols and measures became laws and were implemented.
In the modern-day, we, fortunately, do not hear much about mining incidents around the world. This optimism, however, becomes non-existent in Iran governed by the mullahs.
Iran is one of the most important mineral producers in the world, ranked among 15 major mineral-rich countries, holding some 68 types of minerals, 37 billion tons of proven reserves, and over 57 billion tons of potential reserves worth $770 billion in 2014.
Although the environmental effects of mining and metallurgical processing cause occupational safety and health problems, the Iranian government has ignored this fact, and regular, integrated environmental impact assessments were never manifested fully.
Iranian workers have, in theory, a right to form labor unions, but there are actually no union systems in the country. Workers are represented ostensibly by the Workers’ House, a state-sponsored institution that does no good for the welfare of the workers. The right of workers to strike is not respected by the state, and since 1979 strikes have often been met by police actions, arbitrary arrests, crackdowns, loss of jobs, etc. Industrial accidents are common in Iran, where most of the infrastructure is outdated. Many construction and mining sites operate with inadequate materials because managers are unwilling to invest in safety measures, and international sanctions have blocked the import of new equipment.
About two million people work directly and indirectly in Iran’s mines. In Iran, there are about 5,400 active mines with over 91,000 workers, of which 90 are active coal mines with about 10,000 workers.
The state of the miners in Iran possesses a very grim reality. Below is a recount of recent mining tragedies in Iran.
On May 3, 2017, an apparent explosion of methane gas collapsed a coal mine in northern Iran on Wednesday, and the Iranian news media said at least 23 miners were killed and dozens were wounded and trapped.
On January 6, 2020, a mine worker in the city of Delijan, southwest of Tehran, died from the collision of the scaffold with high-voltage cables.
On the same day also an accident at the Kak Pasi coal mine in the depot and collection unit of the Kalate Roodbar city killed a 36-year-old miner, identified as Ibrahim Khibarian.
On January 9, 2020, tunnel number 20 of the Hamkar coal mine collapsed and a worker identified as Mojtaba Tagizadeh was killed, while four other workers were injured.
An accident at the Bernaki coal mine, which occurred on January 10 resulted in the lockout of two miners.
On January 12, a worker at the Dastgaran coal mine in Tabas got stuck under the rubble and died of severe injuries.
In late January, a mine worker was killed in a tunnel accident in one of the Asafij coal mine tunnels in the city of Bahabad in Yazd province.
On January 31, 2020, a coal mine worker in Kuhbanan County, Kerman, died because of crushing by a concrete mixer.
On February 4, 2020, a stone worker was killed at a Qale-Zari copper mine in Khusuf city due to a rockfall.
On February 8, 2020, two workers at the Tashkouieh coal mine in Bafq city died due to gas suffocation.
Aside from the severe lack of safety measures, workers in Iran, and particularly miners face severe salary delays. Sometimes their wages have not been paid for months.
“The workers of the Aq Darband Sarakhs coal mine are demanding 11 months of unpaid wages and 15 days of salaries from May 2014, and a month of unpaid wages from March 2020,” said Ehsan Sohrabi, the Head of the Coordination Center of Islamic Labor Councils in the northeastern province of Khorasan Razavi to the state-run ILNA.
“I would like to ask the Head of the Labor Department that if you do not get two months of your wages, would you tolerate it?” he said to ILNA.
This is just a glimpse into the disastrous state of what workers in Iran must endure. Their lives, families, and living conditions are insignificant for their employers who, one way or another, are affiliated with the clerical regime.
Recent gatherings and strikes by various sectors are indicative of the fact that the regime in Iran ignores the economic grievances of workers, and instead of solving their problems, they offer empty promises or detain those who stand up for their rights.
In early November, labor activist Kamyar Fakour was sentenced to prison, lashes, and a fine for “publishing lies to disrupt public opinion” and “disrupting public order”.
In September, 67-year-old Esmail Gerami, a worker activist, was sentenced to 74 lashes and five years of prison for trying to get his unpaid wages.
Recent protests by farmers in Isfahan, central Iran, turned into massive gatherings in the past days. Farmers and locals came to protest for the 12th day in a row to demand state officials open the dams that prevent the flow of water to the once flourishing Zayandehrud River. In the past years, farmers and locals have protested the diversion of the river, but peaceful protests were met by riot police and security forces.
Iranian workers have reached the undeniable conclusion that the solution to their misery and economic grievances can only be found with the removal of this regime.
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