More than 200 workers gathered in front of the Varamin Sugar Refinery on Wednesday January 28 to protest the closure of the plant.

Varamin is one of Iran’s oldest refineries; management has cited a shortage of raw material as a major factor in the shutdown.

The closure leaves more than 400 people jobless, including 16 who were close to retirement with more than 25 years on the job, workers’ representatives report.

In recent years, as the restructuring of government subsidies caused major price increases, there has been an increase in labour protests over unpaid wages and the loss of jobs and benefits. The economic difficulties have also been exacerbated by international sanctions and, more recently, the falling price of oil.