Date: Sat, 13 Sep 97 23:28:27 CDT
From: (Rich Winkel)
Subject: ICFTU: Iranian Workers Demand Higher Wages

/** 203.0 **/
** Topic: Iranian Workers Demand Higher Wages **
** Written 11:18 AM Sep 12, 1997 by labornews in **
ICFTU On Line...

Workers demand higher wages

In ICFTU On Line, 12 September, 1997

Brussels, September 12 1997. (ICFTU OnLine): Workers at a Machinery Company producing steam boilers and other industrial companents in Arak, southwest of Tehran, have ended protests they held to demand an increase in pay, says a local labour newspaper on Wednesday (September 10). The protest reportedly finished on Monday, after workers held meetings with officials at the plant, which is run by the Industry Ministry. The plant has 4,000 workers, but in a country where industrial unrest is rarely reported, it is unclear how many workers joined the protest. "The workers' main demand in an increase in pay and this should be pursued through legal channels" a top Labour Ministry official reportedly said.

At present, however, the only worker representation is through guilds and Islamic work-based councils, which are directly controlled by the government, says the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) in its annual report. Workplace "shop stewards" must prove their allegiance to the Islamic faith.

There were strikes in the oil refineries of Tehran, Tabriz, Shiraz and Isfahan last December, where one of the workers' main demands was to be allowed to negotiate a collective wage agreement with the managers of the Iranian National Petroleum Company. This February further strikes took place outside the Teheran refinery, when 2000 workers protested over the deterioration in their working conditions and the erosion of their wages. At the time armed police were used to disperse the strikers and at least 300 were detained.

According to the ICEM, the international energy and mineworkers' federation, the December oil refinery strikes, and these recent industry protests seem to be leading towards a form of independent workers organisation, outside government control.

For more information please contact ICFTU Press Office: 322 224 2020

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