Workers of the Haft-Tapeh Sugar Cane Factory in Shush escalated their fight for unpaid wages this morning by blocking the main highway into the factory.
The blockade of the factory is the latest in a series of actions undertaken by workers, who are continuing their strike in the face of brutal repression by security forces.
Workers at Haft-Tapeh started their strike on May 5 to demand immediate payment of wages, which had not been received for three months prior to the strike.
Demonstrations by workers and supporters through Shush have been repeatedly attacked, with many suffering beatings and arrest at the hands of the police. A gathering outside the governor's office by 5,000 people in support of the strike on May 17 was broken up by police with clubs and tear gas, as was an attempt by workers to block a road three days later.
May 21 saw an attempted march by workers attacked by special police units who had arrived on buses the previous evening. Having taken up positions around Shush, the police, acting under orders from the Governor General to prevent any protests, were ready to arrest many workers during the day.
Several thousand workers again marched on June 10, this time on Haft-Tapeh company headquarters in Shush. They were again set upon by security forces with the resulting clashes leading to a number of arrests.
Dozens are believed to have been arrested during the strike, and remain in police custody.
Meetings held in the grounds of the factory have elected representatives to form the basis of an independent trade union, although the representatives are refusing to meet the management of Haft-Tapeh as workers insist that any offer made by management must be in the presence of the entire workforce.
In addition to the payment of outstanding wages, workers are now also demanding the removal of the factory director general and the entire management committee, the removal of the head of factory security, the release of arrested workers and dropping of all charges and legal proceedings against them, and the right to form an independent trade union.
Footage of demonstration in support of Haft-Tapeh workers in Shush, 19/05/2008 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x-EKR-55Zg