Protests at Iran Khodro after four workers are killed and 13 injured

Worked to death
Worked to death

Statement of a group of Iran Khodro workers

January 26 2011

The statement below has been translated and distributed by Hands Off the People of Iran. It is from a group of workers in Iran Khodro, Iran’s main car manufacturer. They report a major accident which took place during night shift on January 25 in one of the plant’s manufacturing sections. Four workers died and 13 were injured. A worker who was ill and tired after repeated shifts had been forced to come to work. The truck he was driving ran into a crowd of workers in the transport section of the plant.

This sparked all the workers in every sections of the plant to stop work and protest against the Herassat (factory security). Rattled managers tried to remove the bodies from the factory, but angry workers stopped them. They got hold of the body of one of their dead colleagues and carried him around the plant shouting ‘death to Najmodin’ (Iran Khodro’s CEO).

A large spontaneous demonstration took place outside the factory and workers were involved in scuffles with the Herassat and revolutionary guards.

The incident underlines the instability of the Iranian regime and simmering anger of those below. They need our solidarity and renewed determination to fight any imperialist intervention against their country: they themselves must settle accounts with the classes that oppress them.


Shocking news

At 11.30 pm on the January 15 2011 a Benz compressor lorry containing a load from one of the company’s contractors entered gate 9 of Iran Khodro’s transport section. Its breaks failed and it plowed into a group of workers. Four of them, our colleagues, were killed. Thirteen others were injured.

Workers are compelled to work public holidays in Iran (such as January 15) to earn a basic wage adequate to feed themselves and their families. Then, just as they prepare to go home, they faces death and injury.

In protest, a large number of workers gathered outside the management’s office and stayed until dawn. That was all they could do. This was shocking, a lorry driving straight into a crowd. Then the management blamed another worker, the easiest thing to do. No one asked why the lorry was in that place at that time. Where was ‘Herassat’ (factory security)? After all they control every movement of the workforce.

Immediately after the incident, tens of special forces security guards arrived at the factory – not to save workers lives but simply to protect the interests of the managers. We express our condolences to the families of our fellow workers and we share their sorrow. We declare Wednesday, January 26 2011 a day of national mourning – we will stop working to mark it. We will not return to work until those responsible for the death of our fellow workers are identified.

This is not the first time that the workers in Iran Khodro have lost their lives at work. Many of our colleagues have died during working hours in this plant. From the death of Peyman Razilou to a number of other deaths caused by over-work. Yet no one is taking responsibility for these deaths.

Now management is attempting to shift blame for the deaths from itself onto a worker’s ‘careless driving’. But we know that the interests of the company, their drive to increase profits at all costs, are the main reasons behind these and other deaths at Iran Khodro. Why should workers be forced to work on a public holiday without adequate breaks? Why should they be worked to the point of exhaustion by the end of their shift? Why should a lorry carrying tons of cargo pass along a road where workers walk at the end of their shift? Billions of tomans [Official Iranian currency] have been spent on the Iran Khodro firm’s Herassat (factory security) to control and suppress the workers. So why can’t a simple task like coordinating traffic so that the movement of huge lorries does not coincide with the end of a workers’ shift be organised?

Every day we see the absence of safety measures throughout the plant. Workers have often asked that traffic should be stopped when they have to use the main path at the start and end of shifts, but who has listened to these calls? What drives management and their public relations department is profit.

It was obvious that workers walking at night on a road (inside the factory, with no pavement) were putting their lives in danger. We protested about this on many occasions. Management promised to build a foot path on many occasions. Nothing was done. Management’s servile attitude to the interests of capital means they pay no attention to us; our lives mean nothing to these people.

When the anti-working class policy of cutting subsidies was announced, the Iran Khodro management announced that it would cut the price of its products. They made no complaint about anti-human policy of ending subsidies; nor did they didn’t indicate how they would achieve the reduction in their prices. It soon became clear, however – less pay for the workers and an increase in the intensity of their work, even at the cost of their lives.

Four innocent workers have died. Who cares? Four workers died in a work accident on almost the same day a few years ago in KhatounAbad. No one was held responsible. Tens of workers have died in Iran Khodro. No one takes responsibility.

Every day, throughout the world, workers die during working hours but the capitalists and their supporters couldn’t care less.

Death is death whether it is in prison, by execution or in an accident. But this death seems to be always the plight of workers and toilers.

How long do we have to tolerate this situation? Until we workers become conscious and take control of our destiny this situation will continue.

We Iran Khodro workers demand immediate punishment of those responsible for the death of our fellow workers. The murderers are no one else but the factory management (defenders of capitalists’ interests) and their public relations office.

Translated by Hands Off the People of Iran

Khodro Workers Support Wagon Pars Workers


Statement from Iran Khodro Workers

Workers of Wagon Pars Factory!

The right to life is your inalienable right.

The non-payment of several months of your wages is an obvious theft.

The looters of workers’ wages must be sacked and put on trial.

In order to achieve your rights, strike and protest are the only means to liberation.

We salute your battle, and send our solidarity for the demands of your rights, and we stand beside you to achieve your demands.

We call upon all workers and all worker organizations and human rights organizations to not abandon the Wagon Pars workers.

Shoulder to shoulder with them forces the government to meet the demands.
Long live worker solidarity!
Long live the struggle of the Wagon Pars workers!

Collective of Iran Khodro Workers

August 26, 2009

Workers of the Wagon Pars Factory on Strike

Wagon Pars
Wagon Pars

Workers of the  (the Wagon Pars Company was founded in 1974 and started manufacturing different types of rolling stock in 1984; it is situated in an area of 33 hectares in the industrial township of Arak, approximately 260 kilometeres from Tehran-Iran), in the continuation of their struggle for several months of their confiscated wages were on strike for five days.  On August 25, 2009, they blockaded the main entrance gate of the company by sitting on the ground and prevented all managers from entering the factory.  In response to the worker action, the managers initially through threats and intimidation attempted to disperse them; including the dismissal of the remaining contract workers, judicial complaints against senior workers, and the involvement of anti-riot forces permitting them entry into the factory.  Workers that had not received their regular wages for months were not intimidated and were not giving up with these threats.  However, they were more angry and determined to continue the resistance and not accept the dispersal of their sit-in.

Wagon Pars factory used to be one of the giant state companies, and following the announcement of Policy Article 44 related to privatization, Iran Khodro (the largest automobile producer in the Middle East) purchased more than half of the factory shares.  As soon as the factory transferred ownership the company went through a severe financial crisis.  The managers of Iran Khodro, the new owners, withdrew more than 500 billion Toman (approximately $500,000,000 USD) from the state bank which was extracted from the exploitation of workers, in the name of a loan for the restructuring of the factory.  According to the workers the enormous loan was not spent on the Wagon Pars factory, rather it was spent on subsidiaries of the Iran Khodro company and no penny of that money was allocated to the large restructuring of the Wagon Pars industry.

On Tuesday August 25th, 2009, after the protesting workers resisted against the threats of the company managers, the owners began to implement different criminal tricks.  The direct manager of Wagon Pars factory after contact with the main shareholders, announced that 250,000 Toman (approximately $250 USD) will be paid to each worker on Wednesday August 26th.  His goal along with other capitalists was first of all, to overcome the current resistance of the workers in order to put an end to their strike, and second of all, to put off the workers’ back wages which is from approximate $1500 to $2800 USD for each worker, to delay for a few more months.  After the workers returned to the factory, the capitalists in their ongoing tricks and conspiracies against workers, announced with atrocity and brutality that all overtime and benefits would be cut and all contract workers would be sacked.  The capitalists with the same brutality and atrocities added that they do this to punish workers.  The Wagon Pars workers on August 25th, 2009, stopped the wheels of work and production completely.  The workers announced that if the managers do not cancel their decision fully, they would do a new form of protest and struggle against the owners of the company.

Simultaneously with these events occurring in the Wagon Pars factory, a number of Arak municipal employees stated that some of the economic mafia of which at the head are senior Iranian Revolutionary Guards of the central province, have decided with the pretext of further development of the city of Arak, to shut down three giant industrial factories and sell their lands for astronomical profits.

This rumour has become especially strong when people noticed that there is a new highway going right through the lands of the Iran Combine Manufacturing Company and the Machine factory; they had done this very quietly and now they are paving the highway with asphalt.

August 27, 2009

Source:  Coordinating Committee to Form Workers’ Organization