May Day in Iran: Celebration or Objection?

The international worker’s day in Iran was held in 1922 for the first time. Now, 9 decades later the Iranian workers are still trying to form gatherings and demand justice on the May day.

Against many other countries, the first day of May is not “celebrated” in Iran. Workers are under serious financial pressures and threaten of losing their low paid jobs, anticipation to receive their delayed salaries while facing with political repressions makes this day an opportunity for “objection” rather than celebration.

Low job security and threaten of being arrested by governmental forces prevents the majority of workers to freely declare their wants and express their absolute rights in the frame of syndicate activities. In 2008, almost 150 workers were arrested in Tehran and Kurdistan in the gathering on International worker day. This year, just within a week before the international worker’s day more than 5 labor activists were arrested in Isfahan, Sanandaj, Azerbayjan, Kurdistan and some other cities.

Sanctions against Iran besides barriers in transactions with international banks have caused many of industries and factories stop producing goods due to lack of raw materials. This has resulted in increasing the number of fired workers and delays in paying salaries. In some cases it has been up to 32 months of delay in paying workers’ salaries while targeted subsidy program has failed to compensate the high increase in costs of living with the inflation rate which is now reached to 40 percent.

Instability in economic, political and social situations in Iran discourages private sector to invest more in production instead of importing goods. This unfavorable environment for investing incurs loss for both workers and investors. For instance, owners of factories are looking for foreigner labors to replace with lower salaries. These suggested salaries is an average of 240 US$ which is much less than poverty threshold, approximately 650 US$. This trend lends to take advantage of the Iranian workers by asking them to accept blank signature contracts. “The economic hardships in the country and the huge pool of job applicants have resulted in an employee market where the employers can easily impose their own terms. With the implementation of the so-called state subsidies elimination plan and loss of state energy subsidies, it is not only the smaller facilities but also large plants that have shifted towards temporary and blank signature contracts with female workers suffering much of the consequences for now”, as quoted by Iran Labor Report. This is what almost 10 percent of Iranian people, the population of almost 7 million workers are struggling with.

In the future posts I will cover reports about the hard and unequal situations in which women workers are exposed to.

PS: The picture is taken in the Workers protestation in International Workers Day in 2006, published by Fars News Agency.

May 5, 2012 · Maryam Khazaeli · Comments Closed
Tags: , , , ,  · Posted in: Financial, Social Life