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Workers of Iran: The Government Doesn't Hear Us

August 20, 2021
6 min read
Workers around Iran have called strikes and protests against unpaid wages, insurance arrears, and unsafe working conditions.
Workers around Iran have called strikes and protests against unpaid wages, insurance arrears, and unsafe working conditions.

Striking workers across Iran have called on the government to pay delayed wages and insurance benefits, and to provide immediate covid vaccinations, but officials have yet to respond to these demands despite widespread media coverage. The general strike of oil industry workers, ongoing industrial action by Haft-Tappeh factory employees, strikes elsewhere in Khuzestan province, and at least fourteen other actions, were among those that have been covered by Iranian media in recent days. 

Haft-Tappeh Works Through Covid

"The workers of factories and private companies should have benefitted from the six-day coronavirus holiday," a member of the board of directors of the Islamic Labor Councils told ILNA, referring to the situation faced by workers in the heat of southern parts of Iran, and the fact that these factories stayed open despite the latest covid wave. Addressing Iran’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, the board member said: "For more than a month now, Haft-Tappeh workers have protested for the second time against the illegal transfer of ownership [of the company, and despite a court conviction] to prevent wasting public money and to restore their inalienable rights. You should have listened to the voices of the Haft-Tappeh workers and rushed to their aid." 

Curdling Expectations for Wages and Insurance

A group of workers at the dairy firm Pajan Company, located in Tehran, gathered for a second day on August 17 in front of the company complex. Thee have been protesting against months of wage arrears and the non-payment of their insurance premiums.

"They do not grant us our rights," said one worker. “Some of us have been here for 20 years, but now we see that only a month of employment insurance has been paid since 2015. I have been here for two years and I think they have not paid any insurance for six months. Our salaries are five to six months in arrears. Now the managers say they do not want us and will pay salaries at their convenience. Our factory passes have been shut down. The managers say this is the way it is and anyone who does not accept it can go." 

Volume Contractors Ask for Big Changes

The volume-based contract workers of the municipality of Bandar Abbas, who work in the services and green space sector, want to change the status of their volume-based contracts into direct contracts. "Why in a large urban center should there be discrimination between workers?" they ask. "Formal and contractual workers receive higher wages. But volume workers like us are employed by contracting companies that do not care about paying our legal claims. We have no job security and our salaries are not as high as those of officials contractors."

Telecomms Workers Stuck on Hold

Veterans workers in the Telecommunication Company had previously expected updates to their contracts to be completed before the end of August. They have criticized authorities for not fulfilling their promises and have they called for an end to their present status before the end of August.

Others telecommunications employees have said that they have not been paid health insurance benefits. "In recent weeks, when we went to medical centers, we realized that our insurance was not valid and for some of us, the insurance premium has not been paid since April," they say.

Electricity Workers Shine a Light on Missing Rights

A group of contract workers for the electricity network company have demanded to form of a union to pursue their rights. In a call to Iran’s Labor News Agency, they said: "We have about 2,000 contract workers toiling for the electricity distribution company. Due to legal loopholes, we do not have our union rights. The formation of a trade union can help us achieve the rights we have been denied." 

One Step Forward, Five or Six Back for Gilan City Workers

Rudbar municipality in Gilan province has paid only a month of backdated wages to city workers after months of appeals. "But it is not clear whether it is for March or April,” the workers later said. “And they still owe us another four or five months of salary." 

Rudbar municipal workers have other seen other benefits deferred and are worried about their increased claims in the coming months. 

Workers Call for Vaccines to Limit the Industrial Production of Covid

Lockdowns to limit the spread of coronavirus do not apply to many workers on busy production lines around Iran. But the risk of infection on these lines is high. Workers around the country have described the precariousness of their situation and call on the government to prioritize them in the vaccination drive.

Two independent pensioners' organizations have also issued statements calling on the government to deal with covid infections among industrial workers.

Zanjan Pays Some Workers, Ignores Others

Workers with official contracts in Zanjan municipality have succeeded in receiving their wages – but 900 workers in the services departments and green space workers are still not covered by these official categories. According to them, based on a letter from the director-general of labor in the province, the city is obliged to pay the proper wages for these workers, based on the official classification, but nothing has been paid so far. 

Isfahan Farmers Thirsty for Irrigation Supplies

A group of farmers in Isfahan gathered in front of the Isfahan governor's office on August 15 to demand the release of water supplies needed for irrigation.

Power Outages Threaten Work Blackouts

Frequent power outages have left the jobs of electrical workers in Eshtehard in danger of being cut. "More than 20,000 people work in the industrial town of Eshtehard, some of whom have lost their job security due to frequent power outages," said labor sources in Alborz province. 

Unhealthy Discrimination in Qom’s Medical Centers

Employees of the Qom Comprehensive Health Services Centers, who work under the responsibility of 17 private centers in the province's medical centers as service contract employees, demanded the end of discriminatory practices in their salaries and wage benefits compared to official employees with direct government contracts.

Inspectors at Tile Factory Face a Brick Wall

Inspectors from the General Department of Labor and Social Welfare at Abadeh’s Labor Office, who were going to enter the Pasargad Sram tiles factory to conduct inspections on the working conditions there, faced closed doors at the complex and were unable to verify the situation of workers.

Wages Fail to Rise for Break Bakers

The head of the Mashhad Bakery Workers' Association says: "After the increase in the price of bread by 200 tomans, we entered into negotiations with employers to reach an agreement to increase our wages. We were forced to agree with the employers. We requested to receive 280,000 tomans a day while at present the daily wage of a baker is 150,000 tomans."

Bakers work 26 days a month and are paid for the number of days they work. But this monthly income is less than the minimum wage (with benefits) approved by the Wage Committee of the Supreme Labor Council.

Cement Workers Dig Their Heels In

Workers of the Sepahan Dizicheh Cement Factory, located in Mobarakeh, Isfahan, resigned on August 7, to protest low wages and poor living conditions, and gathered in front of the entrance of the factory. 

Building Frustrations of Uninsured Construction Workers

The head of the Construction Workers' Associations in Chaharmahal and Bakhtiari said that 7,000 construction workers in the province are waiting for job insurance. "The biggest problem for construction workers right now is the issue of new workers' job insurance," Nourullah Nikbakht told ISNA

Faster Bonuses in Fars, None Elsewhere

Retirement bonuses for people who left the workforce in 2020-2021 have not been paid despite former president Hassan Rouhani’s administration coming to an end. But in some provinces, officials have promised to pay these bonuses faster; in Fars, for example, the head of the Fars Management and Planning Organization announced the payment of the bonuses by the end of August, if the head of the country's Plan and Budget Organization does not change. 

Fire Department Employees Kindle Protests

A group of employees of the Saveh Fire Department held a protest rally inside the city council building on August 8 to pursue their labor demands. They called on the chairman of the Saveh city council to address the union and to resolve their concerns. 

Related coverage:

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

Labor Activists: State-Sponsored Looting Led to Iranian Oil Strikes

Thousands of Iranians on Strike in Weekend of Multi-Sector Protests

Iranian Laborers Greet the New Year at Risk and Underpaid

Unions Back Striking Oil Workers as Parliament Ignores Demands

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

Labor Activists Slam Government’s New Contracts Proposal

Worker Commits Suicide in Oil Field Because of Unpaid Wages

The Workers' House: Supporter of Trade Unions or Tool of Suppression?

Netherlands Union Calls on Rouhani to Respect Workers’ Rights

Canadian Union Pledges Unconditional Support and Solidarity for Iranian Workers



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