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

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