Strikers return to work after protesting for two weeks, with disputed results

After ending their first round of strike Bafgh workers had given a grace period of two months to the company as a window of opportunity to satisfactorily resolve all remaining issues. But instead of resolving the remaining issues the mining company decided to press charges against the strikers with arrest warrants issued for 16 workers, resulting in arrest of several miners. Hence Bafgh miners had no option but to resume their protests. A new round of strikes at the mines began on August 19 over the arrests, and hundreds of miners, their family members and supporters participated in massive sit-ins at the Governor’s office protesting these arrests.

Faced with extensive, well publicized protests the mine company agreed to withdraw the charges against the striking miners, so the arrested workers could be released, but provincial security officials refused to release them. A spokesperson for Bafgh city council stated that the decision for release of workers was now in the hands of Yazd province’s security council. Even after provincial security officials agreed to free the workers their release was contingent upon posting of hefty bails. But all miners and their family members consistently refused to post any bail, because as they said “the detainees did not commit any crime to receive bail orders for their release.” There were conflicting reports that in the end some bails were actually posted.

Throughout this second round of strike Bafgh miners have enjoyed massive community support on local, national and international levels. Finally miners agreed to return to work based on promises that the plan for privatization of the remaining stock would be revoked, fifteen percent of company’s stock would be allocated to their municipality in the next four months and their arrested coworkers would be freed. On 3 September 2014 arrested workers were released, and miners returned to work.

But as soon as workers returned to work there were conflicting statements about fate of the remaining stocks. The head of Privatization Corporation Mr. Hossaini was quoted on 3 September 2014 saying: “71.5% of mine’s stock was sold last year as collateral for debts, and the remaining 28.5% were also sold this May.” He also emphasized that both these sales were final, legal and irreversible.

In dismissing Mr. Hossaini’s statement the political/security assistant to Yazd’s governor Mr. Talebi was quoted as saying: “In our meeting of August 30, 2014, which was also attended by other officials from Tehran, privatization of the remaining 28.5% stock was revoked, and that was the message we have been telling the workers.” He also criticized lack of coordination amongst various state agencies.

IASWI will keep you informed of all future development in Bafgh miners’ strike, through our web site and future issues of Bulletin.
· Translated by Hoshang Tarehgol

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