Without Effective Safety Laws or Unions, Workplace Deaths Increase in Iran
Without adequate laws protecting workers’ safety or independent labor groups able to organize and advocate effectively for workers’ rights, workplace deaths in Iran have risen to alarming numbers.
More than 650 people have died and 10,109 others were injured at the workplace in Iran in just the four-month period from March 21 to July 22 in 2015, according to the Iranian Legal Medicine Organization (ILMO).
“The numbers could be much worse. Many workers do not report their injuries to medical centers out of fear of losing their jobs and many work-related accidents do not get reported,” labor activist Mehdi Kouhestani-Nejad commented to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran. “We do not have mandatory safety training regulations. In other countries, safety comes first,” he added.
According to official statistics gathered in a report by the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), the number one cause of death at the workplace over this period was falls from high places (45.6 percent), followed by blows from strong objects (22.1 percent), and electrocution (15.1 percent).
“In Iran we don’t have any laws that protect workers who refuse to work in dangerous conditions. If he doesn’t obey, he can be reprimanded, fined or fired,” Kouhestani-Nejad told the Campaign. “If a worker dies at the workplace, there is no particular way to follow it up with the employer. All the laws are in favor of the employer.”
“It’s the job of labor organizations to pursue labor demands and seek more rights for workers and relay their voice to the officials. But we don’t have [legal] labor groups and the Labor Ministry sides with employers,” Kouhestani-Nejad added.
The ILNA report showed that work-related deaths increased from 697 in 2004 to 994 in 2013.
Independent labor unions in Iran are unable to operate and bargain collectively, strikers are often fired by their employers, and labor leaders face arrest and imprisonment under long sentences.