Zamaneh Media’s 22nd Labor Rights Report covering workers’ strikes and protests, arrest of labor activists, and issues related to unemployment, wage, workplace discrimination, and accidents in July and September 2022 is available for download. In this period, Iranian workers faced more economic pressure as rent, food, and healthcare prices increased. Despite Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet announcing a ceiling of 25% for housing rent increases in major urban centers, deposit and monthly rents increased more than twice when compared to the previous year. As a result, there has been a significant increase in migration from urban areas to the outskirts of cities and informal settlements.
The removal of the subsidized currency exchange rate for two groups of food and health goods (known as a dollar for 4200 toman program) led to over 80% price increase in some food and drug items in July and August 2022. The increase in the price of dairy decreased per capita consumption by more than 111% as more households removed or reduced dairy consumption. The government, which was promised to stabilize food prices, backed out of this promise in the budget law amendment bill. Health goods and drugs inflation increased by 39.6% compared to August 2021.
The government’s large budget deficit led only to a 10% increase in the meager salaries of government employees since the beginning of this fiscal year in Iran (March 2022). The government has not yet fulfilled a promise to increase the salaries of Social Security pensioners. This promise is pending the budget review for the next fiscal year in Iran (March 2023).
The economic recession has increased the number of fired workers. Unemployed workers turn to “informal” jobs such as delivery for online service companies (i.e., Snap, Snapfood, Digikala, etc.), carrying goods in the market, peddling, and in border areas becoming human cargo mules (kulbars in Kurdistan and Sukhtbars in Baluchistan).
This summer, as the economic crisis increased pressure on the workers, the scope of union and labor protests became wider. Workers rallied or went on strike in dozens of large manufacturing and industrial units, including the oil and gas, steel, and mining industries. Contract workers at oil and gas and petrochemical projects went on strike in July and August 2022. They want to reduce working days to 20 per month and increase rest days to ten.
According to the Statistical Center of Iran between spring 2021 and spring 2022 more than 13% of workers in Iran’s industrial and mining sectors moved to the service sector. The mining industry is also facing chronic mismanagement and financial corruption at several institutions including at the level of Iranian Mines and Mining Industries Development and Renovation Organization (IMIDRO), a government institution, and the Welfare Development Investment Private Joint Stock Company affiliated with the Workers’ Welfare Bank, that are the principal shareholders of Mobarakeh Steel Company in Isfahan.
In this reporting period, at least four strikes and protests were reported in the mining and metal industries including of the workers of the Sungun copper mine, located in Varzaqan county in East Azerbaijan province. For several days the workers went on strike to protest low wages, exploitation by various contracting companies, and the non-implementation of the job classification plan. The security forces arrested at least 22 workers, related to this strike. Sungun copper mine laid off at least 30 workers in this period.
Municipal workers, mainly employed on temporary contracts and through contractors, have the highest unpaid wages compared to other sectors in Iran. Between July and September 2022, more than a dozen city workers rallied or went on strike to protest unpaid wages including municipal workers in the cities of Ahvaz, Andimeshk, Asalem, Ilam, Hoviza, Khorramshhr, Neyshabour, Roodbar, Sisakht, Shush, and Zarneh. Some municipal workers in these cities have not been paid salary for as much as seven months. Sisakht municipal workers in Kohgiluyeh and Boyer-Ahmad Province have the longest wage arrears and have not been paid for 13 months. The contractors of Khorramshahr municipality have not paid the employer’s share of the insurance premiums for nearly one year and six months.
Nurses and medical staff protested in several cities including at least nine hospitals and medical centers, for wage discrimination.
In the road and rail transportation sector, workers and unions reported delayed wages, downsizing and removal of employment benefits, and an increase in temporary contracts. These conditions have led to protests and strikes of at least nine workers’ independent unions or gatherings including that of Zarand maintenance workers of Railway Lines and Technical Buildings in Kerman Province, East Zahedan maintenance workers of Railway Lines, and Maintenance workers of Railway Lines in Qom and Hamedan.
All the while the Iranian workers were protesting during this period, Iran’s security institutions increased political repression, especially against workers, labor activists, leftist students, and labor journalists. Many striking and protesting workers were arrested. Several teachers who were indecent union members were arrested during this period. Several student and labor activists, including Yashar Dar al-Shafa, Abolfazl Nejadfateh, and Hasti Amiri, were summoned to prison. Leila Hosseinzadeh, an Iranian student and labor activist was arrested for the second time this year.
Visit Zamaneh Media’s Labor Rights Page to download more reports: