Rail Workers Strike Over Unpaid Wages Continues
By Staff Writer
A rail workers group in Iran has issued a statement saying that workers will remain on strike until their demands are met.
The rail workers have been on strike across Iran since July 20, in cities like Arak, Azarbaijan, Isfahan, Khorasan, Lorestan, and Zanjan, demanding the payment of their two-month overdue salaries.
The statement demands that the several thousand workers, who are responsible for maintaining the country’s rail lines, are paid their back salary. They’ve also demanded permanent contracts, an immediate end to layoffs, insurance benefits, the right to form a union, and the right to protest.
The Hassan Rouhani government has repeatedly promised to see that the wages are paid, but this has not materialised into any sort of action.
Protest by mill workers
Of course, rail workers are not the only ones protesting overdue wages. Hundreds of workers at the Haf Tapeh sugar cane mill gathered outside the industrial complex’s management office for the second day in a row on Saturday to protest unpaid wages.
According to a statement issued by the Haf Tapeh workers union back in April, they hadn’t received their wages for months and had not received their New Year’s bonus in March.
The owner of the complex blamed imported sugar for reducing the cost and making the business still profitable, but during a protest back in January worker Isma’eil Bakhshi explained that the workers had no money either and that they should take over the operations themselves. He and several other protesters were arrested.
Iran has seen mass protests on a daily basis since December, after a draft budget which slashed subsidies for the poor in favour of more military spending was released. The protests soon attracted people with a whole myriad of complaints and eventually morphed into a general anti-regime uprising. Many people blame the Regime for prioritising foreign warfare and support for terrorism over the safety and welfare of the Iranian people.
This spread quickly to at least 142 cities in Iran across all 31 provinces, over four months before the US withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Deal. Since the withdrawal, protests against the Regime and the failing economy have only increased. Now, even those groups traditionally loyal to the Regime have taken to the streets.
The Regime has tried to put the blame for the protests on “foreign enemies” but the reality is that the financial situation for the working class is dire; with minimum wage working out at $200 per month.
Activist Jafar Azimzadeh said: “Where else in the world is a worker whose wage is four times below the poverty line forced by the police to work? This is a crime. This is slavery.”