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Iranian Textile Workers Demand Back Wages

Some 750 textile workers have rallied in front of the governor's office in the northern Mazandaran Province to protest a 10-month delay in the payment of their salaries, RFE/RL's Radio Farda reports.

On November 3, workers in the city of Qaemshahr claimed they have not received regular bonuses for four months since December, on top of which they have not been paid three months' worth of regular salaries this year.

Heshmatullah Raeesi, a Germany-based labor rights analyst, told Radio Farda on November 4 that, although the failure to pay workers' salaries cannot be excused, about 90 percent of Iran's textile industries are on the verge of collapse according to statistics cited by the parliament.

"The government's policies towards this industry have brought them to this state," Raeesi told Radio Farda. He added that even though 30 percent of the total labor force works in the textile industry, the government has not modernized it.

In addition, the government has opted to import ever-larger quantities of goods, which has negatively affected domestic production.

Workers reportedly face problems such as refusal by local bakeries and grocery stores to extend credit. Some people say they can no longer afford to send their children to school or university.

Qaemshahr Governor Hassam Qolizadeh met with the protesting workers and told them the company director is responsible for resolving their problems. The director then assured Qolizadeh that there is a viable plan to pay the employees' current salaries plus one month's wage arrears by November 13.

Many other Iranian workers are suffering from wage arrears.

A man named Ali, who works at the Ziaran slaughterhouse in the northwestern city of Qazvin, told Radio Farda that he has not been paid for the past 21 months.

"We are embarrassed when we go home at night and cannot provide our families with a proper meal," he said.

Hamed, a worker from the southwestern Khuzestan Province, told Radio Farda that "big government-affiliated industries that are undoubtedly making a profit still do not pay workers' wages [on time]. The pipe manufacturing factory in Khuzestan has not paid its workers for 15 months and they do not receive unemployment benefits [when they are laid off]."

Meanwhile, 1,300 workers at the Alborz tire plant in Tehran have ended their monthlong strike following pledges from industry officials to pay their back wages. One worker told Radio Farda that half of the wage arrears have been paid, and the board has promised to pay off all its debts to workers once a loan is approved.

The Alborz employees have agreed to resume work on November 6.