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Iran: a must see speech by a worker representative during Haft Tapeh Sugarcane workers’ strike (With English Subtitles)



Esmail Bakhshi’s speech, on January 15, 2018,  during the strike of the workers from Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Complex. 

Haft Tapeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate has been an epicenter of independent Iranian labor movement in the past ten years. From 2008 to 2010 Sugarcane workers organized an unprecedented series of strikes, marches and rallies. Since then their leaders and members have been a central target of Islamic Republic’s security forces.

Last December during their latest strike (in which they were demanding payment of their unpaid wages, removal of the current CEO, and a revocation Haft Tapeh Sugar Company’s privatization, and its return to the public sector) they were successful in ousting the incompetent, corrupt CEO, and were promised that all their other demands will be met as well.

In mid-January, Sugarcane workers announced that since none of their other demands were met, and they still have not been paid back months of unpaid wages, as they were promised to in last year, they are on strike again, but this time with a different method and approach.

During the new strike, Sugarcane workers announced that they will give the authorities an opportunity to fulfill all their promises, but if these promises were not materialized by the upcoming Friday from this speech, the workers would go to take over the management of the company and operate the facilities by themselves, under their own management and control.


More background information: On October 22, 2008, Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane workers formally re-established their union called the Syndicate of Workers of Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Company. Haft Tapeh sugarcane workers’ original syndicate was established back in 1973, but the Iranian government had crushed and banned all independent workers organizations in early 1980s. After the formation of the Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company this was the second genuine workers’ union that has been formed through workers direct involvement and election of workers’ representatives in Iran. Both elections took place without the permission of the Ministry of Labour. The Islamic Republic of Iran viciously opposes autonomous workers’ organizations and persecutes workers’ activists and organisers.

The Haft Tapeh sugar cane Company (full name:  Haft Tapeh Sugar Cane Plantation and Industry Company) is an industrial complex, with about 5000 workforce, in city of Shoush in Southern Khouzestan province in Iran.  For the past 10, Haft Tapeh workers have been engaged in numerous strikes, job actions and protests for non-payment of wages and a list of other demands. Throughout this time, workers have been trying to form their union despite serious government barriers, arrests, intimidation and prosecution of workers’ leaders. In spring 2008, Haft Tapeh workers formed a committee to re-launch their organization which was banned since 19080s. Following numerous efforts, they were able to organize an election on October 22, 2008, during which workers voted in favour of the Syndicate’s constitution and elected their executive board members. For over  a decade, the representatives of these workers have been facing arrests, imprisonment, interrogation and threats and their families have been under pressure and were persecuted by the intelligence forces. They were taken to the court recurrently using allegations like “action against national security “against them. Their struggles continue and need support by their fellow workers internationally.



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