By The Free Iranian Staff
This is The Free Iranian’s eighth report on the ongoing national workers uprising; for all previous reports please click here.
May 19: Another Iranian factory, the Nord Ivan steel factory in Ilam, has gone bankrupt and ceased operations, after months of turmoil between management and employees over unpaid wages. 1,000 workers are now unemployed. The factory had opened only five years ago, and had been touted by regime officials as an example of modern Iranian industry.
May 20: Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the Tehran City Council, said during a Council session today that “The people’s dissatisfaction with the current situation is the greatest threat to the system and is more dangerous than foreign threats.”
Meanwhile, seeing the tides of public rage turning against them, hardline politicians are beginning to distance themselves from the regime of which they are a part. Hajar Chenarani, an MP of the Islamic Parliament (Majles) said during a session that: “We cannot say that our republic is an Islamic republic. One cannot defend a society in which some people eat and do not work and become wealthier by the day while some people do not eat and work but unfortunately become poorer by the day.”
May 21: A group of retired teachers gathered to demonstrate outside the Ministry of Education, as part of their continuing campaign of demanding pensions that allow them to live without being in poverty. They chanted “The results of 30 years of hard work should be paid as quickly as possible, and we cannot accept these conditions.”
May 23: The regime’s plan and budget organization announced today that government employees and retirees would not receive salary or pension increases this year, despite officials having promised a month ago that there would be wage and pension raises.
May 25: Workers at the South Pars oil field went on strike today, after not having been paid this month.
Oil workers also went on strike in Asaluyeh, Bushehr province, in protest over sudden firings and owed back wages.
In Ahvaz, oil workers also protested sudden and unannounced layoffs.
These moves all come as a result of Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh’s moves to cut expenses, at any social cost. Earlier this month, the workers at South Pars had written an open letter to Zanganeh, detailing their insufferable living conditions.
May 26: 500 employees of the Tehran Metro, who haven’t been paid in months, and are threatening to go on strike, sat down today on the platforms of the Metro stations, disrupting traffic as a way of bringing attention to their demands.
The unpaid employees of the Imam Khomeini hospital in Karaj held another protest today outside the hospital grounds.
Waste collectors in Abadan went on strike today, after not being paid for three months. The workers have repeatedly gone on strike over the last year as they have only been paid intermittently, a few months at a time.
The workers of the Sabalan Ardebil Power Plant published an open letter today to the Azarbaijan Power Company, protesting against how they are being treated. When the plant was privatized in 2009, the workers were promised that their wages would never be reduced, and that 30% of the plant’s stock shares would be transferred to them. Instead, the workers never received any stocks, their wages were cute, while management raised their own salaries, and the workers lost the right to collective bargaining, as well as health insurance benefits.
Representatives of the truck drivers’ union are declaring that the trucking industry in Iran is in crisis. Due to the huge increases in the prices of diesel, tires, and spare parts, many drivers, who can no longer afford to maintain their vehicles, have decided to quit their jobs. With the resulting shortage of drivers, crops are now rotting in various parts of Iran because they can’t be transported to warehouses, which is increasing food shortages. Last year, the truck drivers’ union carried out several long strikes in an attempt to win relief from the regime, but each time, the regime mage promises to the union and never kept them. Eventually, the strike was forcibly suppressed by the IRGC.
May 27: A report from regime-controlled Fars News revealed that rents in Tehran have risen by 40-100% over the past year, with an average of a 50% hike after accounting for inflation. As a consequence, many Tehranis who are no longer able to afford their apartments have become homeless. The average Tehran resident now spends over half of his/her income on rent. Additionally, while Tehran has suffered under a housing shortage for many years, the shortage, and the homelessness situation, has worsened considerably during recent months, as villagers fleeing farms that are no longer arable because of the Iranian water crisis come to Tehran, only to find no jobs or affordable apartments.
Another report issued today, by the Iranian Students Opinion Committee, stated that four million Iranians did not eat any meat at all last year, and nine million did not eat any fish. The average Iranian now consumes about 1,500 calories a day, 500 less than the daily recommended amount.
44 trade union leaders who were arrested during May Day protests remain imprisoned and still haven’t been officially charged with a crime.
May 29: Employees of the Tehran Metro went on strike today, saying they will not return to work until Mohsen Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the Tehran Metro Company in addition to his position on the Tehran City Council, resigns. The workers are angered at Rafsanjani because he wants to change the workers’ status from fixed contract-employees to temporary contract-employees. The workers marched down the streets of Tehran chanting, “Unreliable manager, we don’t want you. Resign! Resign!
In the meantime, Tehran police officers are being assigned to man the Metro stations to replace the picketing workers.
June 6: Ebrahim Pirayesh, secretary of the Workers House (regime-controlled labor organization) in Bandar’e Shahpour stated in an interview today that many workers are angered by a new law that allow employers in Special Economic Zones (designated free trade areas in Iran) to immediately fire and “blacklist” employees, i.e. making them ineligible to be hired by another company, if they advocate for, or try to organize, a union.
June 14: The Union of Iranian Retirees issued a call over their Telegram account, entitled “Minimum Livelihoods, Maximum Pressure,” for pensioners to demonstrate in Tehran on the 18th.
Text of the demonstration invitation (in Persian)
June 17: Picketing workers at the Imam Khomenini hospital in Karaj, who have been on strike for over a year, as they haven’t been paid since 2016, began a new series of protests outside the hospital today demanding their back pay.
June 18: Retirees protested today outside the Islamic Parliament (Majles) in Tehran, angered by a recent decision of the Social Security Organization’s management board to increase board member salaries while denying a pension increase to Social Security beneficiaries. The protesters chanted “Pensioners will die, but we will never accept degradation…. We’re all in this together and fed up with empty promises.”
The employees of the Imam Khomeini hospital in Karaj continued protesting today outside the hospital.
June 26: A report in the regime-controlled newspaper Vatan’e Emrouz stated that the price of housing in Iran has gone up 90% over the past year. 30% of Iranians, some 26 million people, are living in substandard and unsafe housing, while 2.5 million homes around the country remain unoccupied because landlords are charging rents that no one can afford. The largest owner of unoccupied housing is Setad, the headquarters of the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei.