According to reports currently circulating, as a result of a massive explosion deep within a coal mine in Golestan province, northern Iran, a large number of miners have been killed and others trapped and concerns are growing for their safety. So far, the death of 35 miners has been confirmed and 21 bodies have been recovered. Most of these miners have perished due to lack of oxygen.
Reports indicate that the bodies recovered at this point are of those miners that went in after the explosion in an attempt to save their comrades already trapped at a depth of 1200 to 1800 meters underground. The Tudeh Party of Iran released a statement on Wednesday 3 May expressing concern that around 60 miners had been trapped within the deep tunnels of the privately owned North Western Zemestan Yurt Coalmine. The authorities locally have already confirmed that the mine lacked certain necessary safety equipment including that for the monitoring of the level of explosive gas build up within the complex. One miner has reported that the motor operating some of the machinery had already stopped owing to the gas build up but that the miners were told to continue with their work and restart the motor at which point the initial explosion occurred.
The Tudeh Party of Iran’s statement charges that this is not the first time that workers' lives and health in Iran have been put in jeopardy in such incidents - far from it! The wholesale privatisation of the majority of mines in the country and lack of any proper monitoring and enforcement of basic health and safety standards and working conditions have enabled the greedy mine owners carte blanche to ride roughshod over the welfare and lives of their workers in the pursuit of bigger and quicker profit. Official and authoritative statistics lay bare the gravely serious health and safety situation in most workplaces in the country. Iran ranks as amongst the world’s worst for its record in relation to injuries and fatalities at work. This is borne testament to by the number of complaints and representations made by independent trade unions from the country to the ILO in recent years.
This horrendous track record owes to the harsh policies of structural adjustment and deregulation overseen by successive governments, including the current one, in the service of maximising the interests of big capitalists. In recent years and with the government’s enthusiastic pursuit of the policy of attracting foreign capital - offering outside investors a cheap and unregulated labour market - all key and fundamental health and safety rules and procedures continue to be neglected if not completely ignored by employers, and in particular the firms and companies controlled by the guards corps and insider-associates of the theocratic regime.
“Since this rapid and all-encroaching spread of privatisation, we have regularly witnessed disasters such as that which has taken place at the North Western Zemestan Yurt Coalmine. The main reason for this is the implementation of the economic and social policies of the theocratic regime.”
The statement of the Tudeh Party of Iran goes on to specify: “Creating an effective system for ensuring and enforcing health and safety in the workplace, in which there is a clear role for bona fide and independent trade union organisations is a key demand of the workers and working people of Iran.”
The statement calls on all workers and working people in Iran to unite and organise to campaign against the clerical regime’s socio-economic plans and policies; the urgent address of Iran’s increasingly perilous workplace; as well as for a thorough investigation into what took place at the North Western Zemestan Yurt Coalmine, the proper prosecution of those ultimately responsible, and for compensation and long-lasting provision to be made to all those and their families affected by this disaster.
Tudeh Party of Iran
4th May 2017