Zamaneh Media reports a significant upswing in labor-related protests in the summer in oil and gas sector, public service sector, municipal workers, and retired workers. Most protests were about delayed payment of wages, contract and employment status, and discrimination at the workplace. The public service sector workers were experiencing delays in salary payments, accumulating over periods ranging from six months to a year. Notable among the extended protests were those staged by employees of Iran Carton, a leading carton packaging firm in Iran, and Machine Sazi Arak (MSA), a prominent Iranian manufacturing entity. At MSA, a workplace strike persisted for over two weeks.
Iran’s economy continues to struggle due to stalled nuclear negotiations with Western nations and economic sanctions. Workers report a high cost of living, heightened repression, and a prevailing sense of despair. Workers are advocating for a national minimum wage increase to align with inflation and the cost of living. However, the government has obstructed the Supreme Labor Council from convening to reassess wages, resulting in a threefold increase in the gap between wages and the cost of essential goods. Some Members of Parliament estimate that approximately 28 million Iranians now live below the poverty line.
Data from Iran’s Statistics Center indicates a decline in the official inflation rate as of July 2023. This reduction can be partially attributed to the price liberalization of essential goods and the abolition of the preferential currency system, where the government provided currency at a rate lower than the market. Despite exacerbating poverty, the government has pledged to offset the loss of purchasing power by enhancing non-cash subsidies for the lowest income deciles.
Housing and rental costs have surged despite government promises to stabilize these prices, prompting economically disadvantaged individuals to relocate from urban centers to peripheries and, in some cases, even to rural areas.
It is not only the working class that is suffering. Retirees can no longer afford the costs of living on pensions. The Social Security pensioners and pensioners from various pension plans continued to protest in several cities during this period with security forces using violence against them. Several retirees in Ardabil and Rasht were arrested. In Tehran, security forces prevented a planned rally outside the parliament.
In this period, pensioners from the Iran Telecommunication Company, the Civil Servants Pension Fund, the Armed Forces Pension Fund, the Steel Industry Employees Support Fund, and a contingent of retirees from the medical sector took part in the protests. The common demand among these groups is for the government to take responsibility for bankrupting pension plan funds and not paying retirees in accordance with several laws that are not being implemented. The proposed Seventh Development Plan outlines the government’s intentions to address budgetary shortfalls by mandating the sale of pension fund assets.
Contract workers in the oil sector left their stations at the Khark and Asalouyeh oil terminals in protest. In Tehran, hundreds of workers from the Arkan-e-Saalis oil industry project took to the streets. Simultaneously, contract workers from Dehloran Petrochemical and employees of Arya Sasol Polymer Company staged protests in Asaluyeh. Workers known in the oil industry as project workers are temporary contract workers who work for contractors. They protest to demand the elimination of intermediary contracting firms, advocating instead for direct employment contracts with the Ministry of Oil.
Workers from state-owned companies in the oil-rich southern regions and employees of state-operated drilling firms gathered in Tehran in protest.
In Dehloran, employees of a petrochemical facility gathered outside, expressing their concerns over the imminent closure of the company and anticipated job cuts.
The economic challenges facing Iran have further intensified worker dismissals, with the actual number of affected workers believed to be higher than what is reported in the media inside the country. Firing of protesting workers is a trend that has become prevalent in this period. 1,500 employees faced layoffs at Techno Energy Sepehr Company (TESCo) and Alhaavi Pharmaceuticals. TESCo, a crucial provider of telecommunication and electrical equipment for southern oil and gas projects, terminated around 600 employees within 40 days. The primary reason cited by company proprietors was production losses. In Chabahar, several contract municipal workers found themselves unemployed following a protest outside the Islamic City Council building. At the Pooya Polymer Company in Sanandaj, four workers advocating for trade union rights and participating in protests were terminated. Similarly, two employees at a factory belonging to Tehran’s Darugar, a manufacturer of personal care products and detergents, were dismissed for their protest activities. In the energy sector, 38 employees of the Bankol oil and gas project were terminated after participating in demonstrations protesting their work conditions.
To access previously published reports concerning workers’ rights, please visit Zamaneh’s labor page: