Iranian court sentences workers to flogging, forced labour and prison

The Arak criminal court has sentenced 42 workers from Azarab Industries to one year in prison, 74 lashes, and one month of forced labour.

The workers are being punished for protesting the non-payment of wages after the privatization of Azarab Industries. Workers have not been paid for May and June of this year. The court ruled that the workers who took part in demonstrations are guilty of disrupting public order and insulting public officials. The sentence can be appealed.

Workers also protested against privatization and the failure to pay wages in October last year. IndustriALL intervened when 21 Azarab workers were arrested. Since the company was privatized, workers have seen a significant deterioration in their job security and benefits, and frequent delays in wages payments.

Over the past few years, a number of state-owned companies in Iran have been privatized, with control handed over to regime insiders. IndustriALL’s affiliate the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI) released a statement accusing the privatizers of being “embezzlers and criminal gangs” who have targeted the livelihoods of workers.

“The protests will not stop and the demands of the union movement will not be defeated”, the statement went on to say.

“UMMI, together with its comrades, whether in Haft Tappeh, Azarab, Arak, Kerman, Assaluyeh oil and Gaz fields and Agh – Darreh mines, or in any other corner of the country, calls for an end to the privatization of the country’s industries, and punishment for employers who fail to pay wages.”

IndustriALL assistant general secretary Kemal Özkan said:

“Once again, workers in Iran are being brutally attacked for standing up for their basic rights. The Azarab workers must be immediately released. All charges must be dropped, and the delayed wages must be paid.

“We repeat our call on the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to end the arrests and repression of workers, labour activists, and independent unions. In particular, we call for an end to the inhuman practice of capital punishment.”

Azarab is a large manufacturing company that constructs components for power plants and refineries. The main products are boilers, turbines and pressure vessels.

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