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Iran News: Tragic Deaths of 8 Workers Within One Week

iran workers shovel construction

In a string of devastating incidents, eight hardworking laborers lost their lives within a single week, highlighting the silent deaths of workers in Iran. On the morning of Friday, April 19, a crane collapsed at Dock No. 6 of Razi Petrochemicals, which was under maintenance, claiming the lives of two workers and injuring four others.

Just a day earlier, on Thursday, April 18, six Afghan workers were killed in a gas cylinder explosion in a rest area at the East Terminal in Tehran. Another worker suffered severe burns in the incident. According to Tehran Fire Department reports, the rest area, intended for worker breaks, was only 10 to 12 meters in size, yet seven workers were present or likely residing there at the time of the explosion.

The way these two incidents are depicted in state-controlled media vividly illustrates the systemic and discriminatory tendencies within Iran’s regime. In the first incident, the Public Relations of the Special Economic Zone of Petrochemicals minimized the impact, attributing it to a mere crane malfunction highlighting that “there was no disruption to Razi Petrochemicals’ operations.” Conversely, in the second incident, emphasis was placed on the nationality of the victims by firefighting officials, seemingly to highlight that they were not Iranian.

According to the Forensic Medicine Organization’s report, during the first half of the year 1402 on the Iranian calendar (March 2023-September 2023), over 1,070 workers lost their lives while on duty. This tragic toll is attributed to systemic negligence, exacerbated by corruption within the Ministry of Labor and the involvement of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in privatization projects.

Falls from heights, impact injuries, electrocution, burns, and lack of oxygen remain the leading causes of worker fatalities in the workplace. Tehran, with 217 cases, Isfahan with 81, and Mazandaran with 70, top the list of unsafe provinces for workers. Iran’s rank in terms of observing safety principles at work stands at 102.

Article 85 of the regime’s Labor Law states, “To protect the human resources and material resources of the country, compliance with guidelines developed by the High Technical Protection Council (for ensuring technical protection) and the Ministry of Health, Treatment, Education, and Medical Sciences (for preventing occupational diseases and ensuring occupational health and safety) is mandatory for all workshops, employers, workers, and apprentices.”

Furthermore, according to Article 91 of this law, “Employers and officials of all units subject to Article 85 of this law are obliged, based on the decisions of the High Technical Protection Council, to provide the necessary equipment and facilities for ensuring the protection, health, and safety of workers in the workplace and to provide them with the necessary training on the use of such equipment and monitor the observance of protection and health regulations. These individuals are also required to use and maintain personal protective and health equipment and implement relevant workshop guidelines.”

The laws designed to protect the basic rights of workers and laborers are rendered ineffective due to the collusion and coexistence of powerful interests with wealth centers. As a result, Iranian workers endure severe exploitation without avenues for justice through official governmental channels. Additionally, migrant workers, particularly Afghans whose identity is not officially recognized in Iran, confront even harsher conditions.