March 5, 2018

Iran: Another Wave of Popular Discontent

Vadym Volokhov

A new wave of popular dissatisfaction with President H. Rouhani's economic policy is gaining momentum in the Islamic Republic of Iran. According to the Iranian Payvand news agency, at the end of February this year in the city of Ahvaz there began simultaneous strikes of workers of steel mill, near Shush — of sugar plantations and sugar mill “Haft Tapeh”. The reason for the strike is the failure to pay wages to workers for several months.

Later the strike was joined by the workers and employees of several companies in the province of Khuzestan in the South-West of the country, who, unlike the strikers in Ahwaz, are demanding from administration not only to pay the delayed salary, but also to improve working conditions.

As of March 3, dozens of enterprises all over the country joined the Ahvaz strike. Gold processing plant workers are on strike in the city of Aqdareh (province West Azerbaijan), as well as employees of the underground railway in Tehran.

Note:

Employees of the gold processing plant in Aqdareh were on strike in June 2017, demanding timely payment of the earned. Several arrested strikers were sentenced by the Islamic court “to be beaten by the whip for others to learn the lesson”.

February 27 this year, state IRNA news agency issued a statement by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, where he accused of massive popular protests the “enemies of the Islamic republic, who provoke workers' protests and try to bring the Iranian economy to a state of decline”.

Iran's trade union activist Mehdi Kouhestaninejad in an interview with the “Persian's News Hour program” (“Voice of America”), said in response to such a statement by the Supreme Leader that “Iranian workers do not consider themselves an instrument of Western powers”. He added that they are representatives of socio-economic class of Iran, loyal to the Iranian Islamic Revolution and thousands sacrificed themselves during the Iranian-Iraqi war.

According to Payvand news agency, delays with paying salaries was true not only for many large industrial companies but also retail stores. Owners of some companies have already stated that they will not pay salaries before the Iranian New Year (March 21, 2018).

Applying tear gas, the police rudely breaks up protests, arresting activists.

Thus, recent events indicate a rather high level of socio-economic tension in Iran and the fact that purely economic demands of the strikers can quickly grow into political slogans that were already heard in January this year.


 

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