Zamaneh Media has published the October and November bi-monthly report on labor protests, strikes and workers’ issues in Iran.

Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Protests in October

In the past two months, the waves of strikes and labor protests continued in Iran. As the third round of nation-wide strikes of the truck drivers ended, the Iranian teachers organized a strike on 14th and 15th of October. Teachers staged another labor strike on 5th and 6th of November.

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The workers of Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Company and Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSI) in Ahvaz were also on strike most of the past two months are still staging protests on a daily basis. In both cases, striking workers took to the street and demonstrated in front of government buildings.

In the protests of the workers of Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industry Complex, women had a significant presence: women workers, male workers’ wives and the families of Haft-Tappeh workers started taking part in the protests as of 14 October, gathering in front of the governorate building of Shush.

The video of one of these women workers, who gives a speech on behalf of Haft-Tappeh workers has gone viral in social media. This woman invites the workers from all across Iran to join the workers of Khuzestan province: “I want to ask all the members of trade unions all around the country and all the workers who, like us, do not have bread and butter these days and are subjected to humiliation in front of their women and their children to join our strike.”

As the labor strikes escalated to street protests and demonstration, especially in Khuzestan province, on the 26th of November, the head of the Islamic Republic Judiciary, Ayatollah Sadegh Amoli Larijani threatened the protesting workers, saying that the “enemy” intends to put “labor demands” into its service.

During the October and November 2018 labor strikes, sit-ins, protests, and demonstrations, hundreds of truckers, teachers, and some representatives of the workers from Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Complex and Iran National Steelworkers were arrested.

On 28 October, one month before the Islamic Republic’s head of Judiciary threatened Iranian workers, Mohammad Shariatmadari replaced Ali Rabiei and became the new Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare. Both Rabiei and his replacement, Shariatmadari have ties to the intelligence community in the Islamic Republic and started their political carriers working for intelligence bodies. This just indicated how workers’ cause is going be dealt with under this administration.

These protests are being organized at a time that Iranian workers are feeling extreme economic pressure. Despite the fact that the Iranian Statistical Center announced an increase in the inflation rate of 34.9% in the period of 23 October to 22 November and 32.8% in the period of 22 September to 23 October, the representatives of corporations, businesses and the government at the Supreme Labor Council (SLC) did not agree to increase the minimum wage.

In October and November, the workers’ representatives asked the SLC to take into account the plunging Iranian Rial (IRR) value and the increasing inflation rate and increase the minimum wage. As one of the workers’ representatives of the SLC puts it: “the minimum wage approved this year will only cover 28 percent of the costs of a household.”

The focus of this bi-monthly report is several key areas of concern including freedom of association and labor protests; discrimination in the workforce and fair wages; contractual issues; unemployment; changes in labor legislation; workplace security and health and women in the workforce.

Zamaneh’s main website reports on labor news and workers issues in Iran on a daily basis. This bi-monthly report presents the audience with the “big picture” of labor rights in Iran to increase knowledge and to raise awareness.
The current and third bi-monthly report covers events in the approximate range of October and November 2018. The newsletter does not claim to be inclusive of all labor events that took place during this period.

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