The workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane complex have been on strike for six days. On the first day of the strike (August 18th) Esmail Bakhshi, one of their elected representatives, set out their problems and demands in a speech. Here is a summary of the main points Mr Bakhshi mentioned.
In addition to many demands relating to wages, bonuses, benefits, insurance and health and safety, Mr Bakhshi said that “The right to strike is your legal right” and that “We are opposed to the firing of even one person.” He went on to cover broader issues about land ownership, workers’ supervision and workers’ councils.
Privatisation of the agricultural land: “Our red line is the ownership of the Haft Tappeh lands. The lands of Haft Tappeh belong to the workers. If the government has sold them, it must come and say this, give the money to the workers. This is our right. […] the government must come and make things transparent. On what conditions did they hand Haft Tappeh over? I don’t know why in this country there is no transparency. … The lands of Haft Tappeh, the estate of Haft Tappeh, are the workers’ property. … They must be accountable.”
Absence of management: “For four or five months there are no managers. We said hand over the management of Haft Tappeh to us. … Workers themselves have been running things. There was no strike, no conflict, no sabotage, in 60 degrees heat all workers worked their jobs perfectly. So, if Haft Tappeh has lasted until now it was only, and only, and only the workers’ enthusiasm and nothing else.” The Managing Director has not set foot in the company for nine months.
Workers’ supervision: “The reps are overseeing everything, from the employer to the bottom. If you see any suspicious case, any improper conduct by a manager, you now have reps.”
Another class is at fault, not the working class: “… They say: ‘The economy of the whole country is in ruin.’ We ask: ‘Did the working class ruin the economy?’ Another class ruined the economy like this. Does the working class have to pay the price? They are sacking the workforce. … We ask: ‘Why are you firing the workforce.’ They say: ‘All companies have a ruined economy.’ Meaning that if someone has ruined the economy then workers have to pay the price?”
The country’s dire economic situation: “The only way to save the country from its economic situation today is workers’ councils, independent workers’ councils, the formation of people’s independent councils to oversee the government’s performance and government institutions. Given the corruption that exists, the only way is this.”
“To control the institutionalised corruption in the country the only way is to form people’s councils and workers’ councils, to oversee the government and government institutions. We’ve started this in Haft Tappeh.”
Source: Haft Tappeh Sugar Cane Workers’ Union.
Translation: Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign.
24 August 2018
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