Ahvaz steel factory workers who have been protesting their unpaid wages for close to a month have been forced to sell their homes to make amends.
According to ILNA state run news agency, the workers of the Ahvaz steel factory based in Iran’s southwest province of Khuzestan, face severe economic hardships due to fluctuations in receiving their salaries.
Coupled within inflation and the high price of goods, conditions have become unbearable for the workers who have large families due to the prevalent culture of the province.
Most workers are tenants and cannot pay for their minimum needs including bank loans, utility bills, rent, their children’s education expenses and their medical bills.
According to ILNA, a large number of steel workers who have not been able to pay their mortgage, have been forced to sell their homes.
Ahvaz steel factory workers marched for the 26th consecutive day yesterday on the streets of Ahvaz.
The angry workers held banners which read, “Workers are awake and resent exploitation.”
The workers also chanted, “Neither the government nor the ruler care about the people”, “They have obstructed the law while all the thieves are complicit”, “Workers will die rather than face degradation”, “If our problems are not solved, Ahvaz with rise”, and “They’ve taken advantage of Islam and have made the people miserable.”
The Iran National Steel Industrial Group, a lucrative complex established in 1967 during the Shah’s reign, has an almost 4,000-strong workforce.
The steel complex was nationalized after the Islamic Revolution in 1979, and later sold in a questionable transaction to Amir Mansour Aria, aka Mahafarid Amir Khosravi, who was executed in 2011 on charges of embezzling nearly $1 billion.
The company was then transferred by the court to the National Bank of Iran, and in October 2017, the bank sold the complex to Abdolreza Mousavi, the owner of a major soccer club in Ahvaz and two hotels in Kish Island in the Persian Gulf. Mousavi is also the managing director of Zagros Airlines.
The factory soon became idle under the new owner and stopped paying its workers’ salaries, which led to numerous protests.Workers complained that Mousavi did not intend to keep the factory running, and alleged that equipment was being removed from the complex.
The authorities announced in May that the ownership was once again transferred to the National Bank, but the Ahvaz steel factory workers said that Mousavi still showed up at the complex and that it wasn’t clear who the owner was.