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Truckers, Hospital Staff and Pensioners in 24 Separate Workers' Rallies in Iran

August 3, 2021
8 min read
Truckers, Hospital Staff and Pensioners in 24 Separate Workers' Rallies in Iran

In the last two weeks at least 25 separate workers’ and retirees' rallies in different sectors were held in various parts of Iran. These protests, many of which were a continuation of strike action earlier in July, came on top of a nationwide strike by oil and petrochemical workers, as well as ongoing protests over the country’s water crisis.

Haft-Tappeh Sugar Refinery Strike Enters Its 20th Day

On Sunday, August 1, workers at the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Complex in Khuzestan rallied for the second consecutive day in front of the governor’s office in Shush, then marched through the streets and the city’s main bazaar.

The workers are demanding the payment of wage arrears, reinstatement of their laid-off colleagues, contract renewals for pest control workers, Covid-19 vaccination for employees – and some clarity on the overall status of the company, after ex-owner Omid Assadbeygi was removed from post over grievous missteps in the firm’s privatization.

Seyyed Nezamoddin Mousavi, member of the parliament from Tehran, recently tweeted: “It appears that after Ayatollah Raisi [Iran’s now-president, formerly head of the judiciary] issued the verdict to dispossess the owner of Haft-Tappeh... the undeserving owner has been scrambling to take advantage of troubled waters and has not only put pressure on workers but wants escape the verdict. Nothing has changed. This verdict must be carried out and the rights of the workers must be protected.”

East Azerbaijan: Power Plant Employees Demand Back Pay

On July 31, a group of employees and engineers at East Azerbaijan Electricity Generation Management Company in Tabriz also held a protest over unpaid wages.

The group demanded both the monthly pay due to them and unpaid bonuses from previous years. They also denounced managers’ failure to adjust their pay in line with inflation and the higher cost of living in Iran.

Five percent of the company’s preferential stock was supposed to be given to employees after 49 percent of the company’s share went public in 2015. This has not happened either. Meanwhile, power plant retirees have stopped receiving subsidies since 2019.

Rudbar: Wage Arrears Finally Being Addressed – at a Glacial Rate

After three days of demonstrations, municipality workers in Rudbar in Gilan report that some – but by no means all – of the back pay due to them been deposited in their accounts. It follows five months in which many workers went unpaid. Each of them has so far received two million tomans ($486).

Bandar Abbas: Demanding an End to Wage Discrimination

Workers at the Ghaleh Ghazi power plant in the Persian Gulf port of Bandar Abbas are demanding an end to wage discrimination between employees doing the same job.

The group has asked the Iranian judiciary, the governor of Hormozgan province and local MPs to step in to end arbitrary wage gaps. But even after a face-to-face meeting with Ministry of Energy officials, no action has yet been taken.

Varamin, Tehran: Rail Workers’ Demands Fall on Deaf Ears

On the morning of July 28, railway workers in Varamin, Tehran province staged a protest at their workplace, the Railway Service and Technical Engineering Company, also known as the Traverse Company, over unpaid wages and insurance premiums.

“One hundred and twenty days since [Iranian] New Year, we’ve received only half of our wages for the month of Ordibehesht [April 21-May 21],” one of the workers told reporters. “In the absence of a response from officials, we’ve decided to pursue our demands by continuing to protest.”

Ahvaz, Khuzestan: Truck Drivers Strike

According to HRANA news agency, a number of truck drivers and owners in Ahvaz, the capital of Khuzestan, also went on strike on July 28, refusing to carry any cargo. The group was said to be protesting against previously-unmet demands. Earlier on July 1, tank truck drivers that provide fuel to Iran’s refineries had come to a standstill in solidarity with the oil workers’ protests.

Tehran: Pensioners Appeal to MPs

A group of retirees in Tehran have held another rally calling on MPs to pass long-planned legislation ending wage discrimination, and with it gaps in pension payments.

Pensioners told reporters that even though MPs have publicly said that they do not want the incoming administration to carry the burden of the Pension Organization’s debts, they have “consistently delayed” on the proposed bill that would address them.

Khuzestan and Isfahan: Retired Steelworkers Rally

On August 1, retired steelworkers in central and western Iran protested in front of the offices of the Isfahan and Khuzestan Steel Companies, demand an increase to their pension payments to compensate for double-digit inflation.

Alborz: Protests by Hospital Employees

On July 27, staff of Imam Khomeini Hospital in Alborz held a rally outside the Iranian parliament in Tehran over unpaid wages, as well as the as-yet undecided future ownership of the hospital.

According to the Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA), the hospitals is currently co-owned by Alborz Municipalities Cooperation Council and the Foundation for Martyrs and Veterans’ Affairs.

But large parts of the hospital have been shut down because the site is now deeply in debt. Its around 200 remaining workers and employees are regularly going unpaid.

Khuzestan: Using Subsidy Funds to Pay Salaries

In order to back-pay the wages of workers and employees of Khuzestan Rural Water and Sewage Company, some 500 million tomans (over $122,000) has been transferred across from Iran’s Targeted Subsidies Organization.

“From the spring of 2000, when rural and urban water and sewage companies in Khuzestan were first merged, we had problems paying our workers’ wages,” Mohammad Reza Karami-Nejad, CEO of Khuzestan Water and Sewage Company, told reporters on July 27.

“Before the merger, rural water company salaries were paid from the development budget. But then they stopped paying for these employees.”

West Azerbaijan: Municipal Workers Going Unpaid

On July 27, workers at Urmia Municipality’s compressed natural gas (CNG) fuel stations in West Azerbaijan rallied in front of the local council offices in protest over unpaid wages and the closure of several gas stations.

“Workers at these stations are not protected by law,” a representative of the protesters told ILNA. “They’re paid a [monthly] salary of just 1.5 million tomans ($365) for 12 hours’ work a day. They’re in post even on holidays, and have to do 70 hours overtime per month. But now, regrettably, they haven’t been paid for five months.”

Tehran and Karaj: Retirees Support Khuzestan Protesters

Also on July 27, a group of retirees in Tehran and nearby Karaj gathered to hold up signs and chant slogans in support of people protesting against the water crisis Khuzestan.

Isfahan: Strike by Cement Factory Personnel

On Sunday, August 1, employees of Sepahan Cement Factory in Isfahan went on strike over unfulfilled promises by the company management. They say that the price of cement has risen a few times but their legal benefits have not been paid.

Minab, Hormozgan Province: Illegal Seizure of Workers’ Land

A group of municipal workers in Minab, Hormozgan province have asked the judiciary to end the apparently illegal seizure of 30 hectares of their land by Iran’s Urban Development Organization.

Minab Municipality Workers Housing Cooperative received the plot about 20 years ago from the Urban Development Organization. It has since been cultivated in what workers described as a lifetime of labor.

But the Organization recently re-occupied the site for a housing project and bulldozed the foundations workers had already laid. Those protesting said they could not consent to what they termed an “illegal occupation”.

Qazvin: Unpaid Wages and Insurance Premiums

Staff at Pars Pamchal Chemicals Factory at Alborz Industrial City, Qazvin province are still owed three months of wages and five months of insurance premiums despite repeated appeals to provincial and city officials.

Protesting workers said they were also owed sporadic back pay from years ago, and for several months a year they had abruptly gone without health insurance.

Golestan and Ardebil: Two Small Pieces of Good News

A tomato paste factory in Aliabad Katul Industrial City in Golestan province that ground to a halt three years ago has resumed its activities. The site was shut down due to cashflow and legal problems but some of its 40 permanent workers and 70 seasonal ones have since been invited back.

In Ardebil, the Nab Vegetable Oil factory, which had closed its doors in 2018 due to shortage of raw materials, has also resumed production with private sector investment.

Khuzestan: A 23-Day Strike

On July 24, municipal workers in the neighborhood of Kut Abdollah, Khuzestan rallied in protest over unpaid wages and benefits. “We are owed back pay and the contractor hasn’t paid our insurance premiums in full,” they told reporters. “We’ve been on strike for 23 days but got nowhere.”

“We had a meeting with the mayor but we achieved nothing,” one protester added. “As always, the mayor says the necessary funds to pay us aren’t there. In the same meeting, we asked to mayor to summon the contractor so we could have a meeting with both of them.”


Related Coverage:

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Iranian Laborers Greet the New Year at Risk and Underpaid

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Oil Strikes in Iran: What are the Contract Workers' Demands?

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