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Iran sugar workers strike over unpaid wages as economy squeezed by sanctions

Tough new US sanctions against Iran have come into force this week [Getty]

Date of publication: 18 November, 2018

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Workers at Iran's oldest sugar cane company went on strike to protest delayed paychecks as a tough new round of US sanctions take effect.

Workers at Iran's oldest sugar cane company went on strike on Saturday over unpaid wages, calling for the troubled factory to be nationalised, the semi-official news agency ILNA reported.

ILNA published a photo of a rally by workers from the Haft Tapeh company in Shush, southwestern Iran, showing women marching with their children - one holding a sign saying: "We are hungry."

Haft Tapeh employs about 4,000 workers and was first established in 1962.

Workers have staged numerous rallies over delayed wages and unpaid pensions since the company's privatisation in February 2016, with protests increasing in recent weeks.

"We call on this hard-working class to get back to work before the products go to waste," said Yadollah Mehrali-Zadeh, deputy governor for Khuzestan province where the company is based.

"The government is trying to pay two to three months of their delayed payments in the upcoming week," he added, according to the official IRNA news agency.

Iran has seen multiple strikes and protests over working conditions and unpaid wages in a number of sectors in recent months, including steel, education, mining and transport. 

This week Iranian teachers went on a nationwide two-day strike to demand better working conditions for their poorly paid profession, one month after their last mass protest.

US National Security Advisor John Bolton vowed on Tuesday to "squeeze" Iran "until the pips squeak", a week after a tough new round of sanctions came into force.

The latest tranche of measures has been touted as the toughest yet, and aim to significantly reduce Iran's vital oil exports and cut off its banks from international finance.

The International Monetary Fund has forecast that the sanctions will cause Iran's economy to contract 1.5 percent this year and 3.6 percent next year.

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