Four arrested in Iran sugar protests

Tehran:Four people were arrested in southwestern Iran on Sunday as locals joined striking sugar workers in mounting protests over unpaid wages and alleged criminal activity by managers, the official IRNA news agency said.

Protests by workers from the Haft Tapeh sugar company in Shush, a city in Khuzestan province, have been building in recent days.

IRNA said locals had joined the demonstrations on Sunday, without giving numbers.

Those arrested included two local workers’ representatives and a female reporter, it added.

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

Haft Tapeh, which employs about 4,000 people, has been hit with multiple protests over mismanagement and alleged criminality since the firm was privatised in 2016.

The head of Iran’s privatisation organisation Mir Ali Ashraf Pouri-Hosseini said Sunday that several board members had been arrested “over forex issues and other ambiguities”, according to the Hamshahri newspaper.

Haft Tapeh’s managing director is “on the run”, lawmaker Hossein Naghavi-Hosseini said following a meeting with the judiciary, according to IRNA.

There were reports the government was preparing to pay two months of delayed wages, but workers remained sceptical.

“For years we have repeatedly heard officials saying that our demands have been met but nothing has happened. We will continue our gatherings until it happens,” an unnamed protester told the semi-official ILNA news agency.