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Iranian rail workers occupy rail headquarters

IRANIAN rail workers are occupying a railway building in the north-western city of Tabriz during strike action demanding the payment of withheld wages and union recognition.

Maintenance workers in Azerbaijan province, who have not been paid since April, refused to start work on Thursday, having stayed in the railway’s offices overnight. 

They continued their protest yesterday against non-payment of wages, the lowering of the skill index rating for their work and a lack of effective mechanisms to respond to their workplace concerns and demands.  

The Railway Development Company covers the design and construction of Iran’s rail infrastructure, including stations, signalling and communication systems, as well as its repair, maintenance and continued management.

According to an Iranian Labour News Agency report, workers at the maintenance department of the company occupied the railway station regional headquarters in Tabriz on Wednesday.

They are demanding payment of outstanding wages and for management to address their grievances and demands.

One of the workers explained: “We are contract workers. Due to the severity of our jobs, our insurance is undertaken from day one. However, the insurance payment by the employer is inadequate and doesn’t reflect the severity of our tasks.

“The employers have reduced the severity index of our job from 10 to seven. This has a direct impact on the amount the company pays towards insurance for workers.”

Most rail workers in Azerbaijan province have been agency staff for about a decade. They have taken their grievances to the authorities in Tehran, but have not been paid since April.

Navid Shomali, international secretary of the communist Tudeh Party of Iran, told the Star that the action was just one example of the situation in many Iranian workplaces.

“The regime considers the trade unions illegal and only allows tame and pro-management Islamic labour councils in order to enforce control over the workplaces. 

“However, the economic crisis resulting from the failed policies of the regime has meant that workers are increasingly turning to strikes, protests and the downing of their tools. 

“In recent months, there have been reports of nearly 500 mass industrial actions in Iran, covering various sectors of the manufacturing industries.”

Strikes are illegal in Iran, but the Tudeh Party called on workers to join “independent and genuine trade unions” and demanded that the government implement international labour conventions.

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