Workplace or Slaughterhouse?

By Hassan Salehi

On September 13, 2005, eleven mineworkers tragically lost their lives at the Bob Neezo Mine, located near Zarand, Kerman. This was the result of a mine explosion, which had occurred because the most basic safety precautions had not been implemented by mine officials.
According to news reports that had been leaked by official media, just a month prior to this explosion, there had been a similar accident which also took the lives of four mineworkers. However, the mine continued to operate without the mine officials enforcing any changes to its safety systems. State officials and related agencies did not bother to intervene.
Furthermore, there were no mine officials present when the explosion took place, and it took over six hours before the manager of the work site even received knowledge that there had been an accident at the mine! Overall, it took more than seven hours before the injured workers received any sort of rescue help. And all this time many were fighting for their lives.
The “Health and Safety Committee” at this mine included only one person, who himself was not trained properly. He too was among the eleven casualties. There is no equipment in this mine to keep poisonous and explosive gases under control at a safe standard level.
The Bob Neezo Mine is a state run mine with some sections contracted out to private companies. The nine out of eleven injured workers that lost their lives are: Hameed Reza Dehqani, Hussain Greeki Pour, Mehdi Dehsh, Abbas Yousefi Zadeh, Saeed Momeni, Ali Mokhtari, Ali Karbakhsh and Reza Mmeni Zadeh. There has been no updated news as to the condition of the remaining injured workers.
In 2004, there were 18,486 workplace accidents reported to the Ministry of Social Security, according to official statistics. This shows an increase of 11% on the previous year. It should also be noted that a large number of accidents are not reported or documented.
These workplace accidents that continue to victimize workers are clear crimes committed by employers and Islamic regime officials, since both are responsible for failing to improve or implement safety standards or regulations. This is all due to the downsizing and cost savings! The Islamic Republic of Iran has always taken the side of and supported employers in disputes over the implementation of basic workers’ health and safety standards and regulations. Not only that; being the biggest employer itself, it has never taken workers’ safety seriously.
We are calling on all workers’ organizations and trade unions to support Iranian workers’ struggle for improving their working conditions.