Letter of the Alborz Province Painters’ Union expressing solidarity with the rescue workers and firefighters who died at the Plasco building.
This day was witness to another sad event: a widespread and unusual fire at the Plasco building that led to the collapse of 15 storeys and almost razed it to the ground. The fire was so intense that 10 fire stations with 200 firefighters were deployed and, according to official news sources, smothered about 30 firefighters under the rubble. The rescue operations have been progressing slowly.
The Plasco building is said to be Iran’s first high-rise and ‘modern’ building. But the total destruction of this 53-year-old modern building in front of everyone’s eyes is, more than anything else, an indictment against Tehran’s City Hall, which in addition to the long list of deficiencies in repairing worn-out structures, has shown its high competence in the scandal of handing over the best land to members of the City Council and others.
Today’s incident took place under conditions that the fire brigade’s spokesperson had repeatedly warned about as the unsafe state of the Plasco building.
The victims of this incident, as always, were the workers: this time it was firefighters whose hard and dangerous work, and high degree of selfless dedication and sacrifice, is in no doubt. Difficulties due to the stress of driving and traffic jams; the noise and light of the sirens; the effects of smoke, toxic gases and chemicals in operational areas and the heat of fires; to witnessing distressing scenes and the possibility of death due to collapsing and falling objects, explosions and so on.
However it was only in 2013 that the ‘decision’ to allow the retirement of workers due to their hard and hazardous work was approved by the Cabinet. But it was not implemented. For this reason in December 2015 around 300 firefighters of the Tehran Fire Brigade gathered outside Tehran’s City Hall to protest for recognition of their work as hard and hazardous.
Today’s sad incident yet again not only shows us the incompetence of City Hall and how it prioritises profit over everything else, but also how in these incidents the first victims are from among the working class. While expressing our deepest sympathies with the families of these dear workers, we ask the people to go to hospital to visit the injured and to organise protests against the incompetence that aggravates crises and turns every incident into a complete disaster and sacrifices workers. Otherwise, this ‘accident’ will sooner or later be forgotten among the mass of other news and what would remain will be land that will probably be replaced by malls and towers – without even paying damages to the survivors of the incident and the families of those who lost their lives.
Alborz Province Painters’ Union
19 January 2017
Translated by the Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign