Monday , 15 July 2024

Unpaid workers protest across Iran as government fails to quash dissent

iranintl – Workers gathered in at least ten cities across Iran on Sunday to demand better working conditions and unpaid wages as presidential elections ended amid the country’s economic crisis.

HRANA, the news agency of the Human Rights Activists in Iran, reported that groups of social security retirees organized rallies in Shush, Ahvaz, Kermanshah, and Tehran.

In addition, steel industry retirees in Isfahan (Esfahan), Damghan, Tehran, and Qaemshahr, unemployed petrochemical project workers in Ilam, and coal mine retirees in Kerman also held demonstrations, demanding overdue payments and benefits.

While annual inflation hovers around 50%, the minimum wage for the current year has been set at a meager 110 million rials (about $190), making it nearly impossible for many to make ends meet.

Workers in Iran are currently grappling with the worst economic crisis since the founding of the Islamic Republic. The minimum cost of living in Tehran is estimated at 300 million rials (about $500), while in other cities it stands at 200 million rials (about $350).

Videos circulating on social media show protesters condemning the death sentence issued against labor activist Sharifeh Mohammadi and calling for the reversal of the verdict. Her punishment highlights the crackdown on dissent and its relentless persecution of those who dare to speak out.

The protesters’ demands include increasing pensions to reflect the actual poverty line, providing free and quality healthcare and welfare services, correcting wage disparities, improving working conditions, guaranteeing job security, and raising salaries.

Meanwhile, contractors of the water and sewage network in Rudbar, north of Iran, have entered the twelfth day of their strike, demanding eight months of unpaid wages.

Oil and gas project workers in the south marked the eighteenth day of their industrial action. Approximately 60 of the workers, who have been striking and protesting round-the-clock, have not received their salaries since December and are facing severe financial hardships.

Their demands extend beyond immediate payment of overdue wages, including demanding permanent contracts, the formation of independent labor unions, job security, the right to protest, and timely monthly wage payments.

Additionally, the Council for Organizing Oil Contract-Workers’ Protests reported that on Sunday, project workers from at least 123 southern oil and gas companies continued their strike. Thousands of oil and gas project and contract workers have joined the movement, seeking not only to improve their earnings but also to enhance their leave policies, job security, and employment status by eliminating exploitative contractors.

These protests are part of a broader wave of labor unrest in Iran, driven by delayed wages, low pay, and layoffs that have intermittently disrupted numerous industrial sectors since 2018.

Over the past decade, the oil and gas industry has been outsourced to influential government insiders acting as intermediary contractors who under pay workers and impose harsh working conditions.

Traditionally, oil workers in Iran enjoyed some of the best salaries and benefits, but exploitation has significantly eroded their standard of living.