✻ Continuing Coverage on Strikes and Labor Protests in Iran: May 1st thru May 21st

By The Free Iranian
This is The Free Iranian’s eighth report on the ongoing national workers uprising; for all previous reports please click here. 

May 1st -2nd/International Workers Day: Massive labor protests took place in multiple cities, throughout Iran; the most notable, in Tehran which was met with severe repression by the Regime’s security forces. Many of the prominent labor activists were arrested. Undeterred, teachers went on strike the following day and in turn, many of them were also arrested. ISICRC covered the events of those two days in more detail in this report

May 5th: Municipal workers in Ahvaz are still on strike, almost two months after they first stopped working, as they still have not been paid.

Railway workers who haven’t been paid two months protested today in Tehran.

May 8th: Employees of the Metanir Power Transmission company went on strike today in Tehran.



May 9th: Workers at the Haft Tappeh sugar agrobusiness complex in Shush, Khuzestan, went back on strike today, after they didn’t receive the payments they were promised to get today. Security forces attacked and arrested ten of the picketing workers.

May 10th: According to a report released today, 60% of Iranian construction workers are unemployed. Housing prices rose 80% last year, while sales declined by 69%, leading to a severe recession in the construction industry.

Telecommunications workers sent an open letter to the Islamic Parliament decrying their low wages and the practice of temporary work contracts, which allow their employers to avoid offering them any health or social security benefits.

May 11th: 20 more picketing workers were arrested today at Haft Tappeh. Among them were Omid Azadi, Saheb Zahiri, Nasser Na’emi, Kiani Nezhad, Mohammad Khanifar, Feysal So’alebi, Adel Samii, and Rostam Kasir.

May 12th: Taxi drivers in Urmia went on strike today in protest against their low salaries.  

May 13th: More statistics from the construction industry report were released today, showing that raw material prices have skyrocketed. The price of steel sheets, as one example, went up 335%. 60% of Iranians are now unable to afford to buy a home.

Sugar prices have also increased by 100%, leading to multiple sugar processing factories to close, mostly in the province of Khorasan.

May 14th: Tile workers in Yazd who haven’t received pay in three months protested outside their county head’s office, demanding that he help them recover their wages.

May 15th: The Regime announced today that retiree pensions would be increased by 18%. This measure has been condemned as woefully inadequate by retiree activists, who say that, considering only the inflation of this current year, minimum pensions need to be doubled at the very least, if Iran’s elderly are to be able to afford a minimum standard of living.

New labor force statistics disclosed today indicate that there at least 500,000 unemployed people in Tehran. Of 16.8 million Iranians between the ages of 28 to 38, 9.3 million are unemployed. The official unemployment rate increased by 17% last year. 77% of the unemployed are male, and 84% are married.

Six more workers were arrested today at Haft Tappeh.

Two Hundred and sixty three workers at the South Pars oil field, all of whom are college educated, sent an open letter to Bijan Zanganeh, Iran’s oil minister, stating that they are having to collect scraps of dry bread on the street because they cannot afford to feed their families on their low wages.

Bus drivers in Zanjan and Mashhad went on strike today after not having been paid in several months.

May 16th: An economic report released today mentioned that the Iranian paper industry is going into a severe downtown, despite Iran not having a paper shortage. Two thirds of the paper imported into Iran, however, is being allocated by the regime to two company whose directors are closely tied to the Ministry of Industry and Mines. Other companies, and newspapers, are being forced to shut down.

Ali Nejati, former head of the Haft Tappeh workers union, was interrogated today in Evin prison and charged with attempting to pass messages outside the prison. Nejati has been imprisoned since last October.


May 19th: Adel Azar, head of the Islamic Parliament’s Privatization Arbitration Commission, stated today that the process of privatization in Iran was corrupt and abused by relatives and friends of regime officials. He said that a full report would be completed within six months. The commission was formed last year in response to widespread worker activism at privatized companies that since either went bankrupt or simply ceased to pay their employees.

A steel plant closed today in the city of Ilam, and all workers were let go without pay. The plant had formerly been described by regime officials as the most advanced in Iran.

May 20th: Railway workers are now on strike in Tabriz and Arak.

All of the workers arrested at Haft Tappeh last week were released today on bail.

May 21st: The Ministry of Oil announced today that it would be immediately raising gasoline prices by 32%, and was considering gasoline tax hikes. The ministry was facing the threat of a strike from refinery workers who hadn’t been paid in months. Bijan Haj Mohammad Reza, leader of the gasoline storage workers union, had threatened to have workers of 1/3 of Iran’s gas stations stop working, with the other two thirds joining the strike for each succeeding month that no payment was received. The ministry pledged that all new revenues acquired from the higher gasoline prices would be spent on paying employee backpay.

Retired teachers protested in Tehran today outside the Ministry of Education’s office, demanding a raise to their pensions.

Tehran Metro workers also protested in Tehran, after the Ministry of Railways refused to offer them full time employment contracts. The police forcefully broke up the demonstration.

Waste management workers also went on strike in Karaj.