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On the situation of workers in Iran on the eve of International Workers' Day

The situation of Iranian workers has worsened over the years in various aspects and has become a deep crisis. In the economic fields, workers suffer from mass unemployment (millions of unemployed) on the one hand, and wages equivalent to several times below the poverty line, on the other.

 This is why, most of the necessities of life, such as healthy food, education, health, travel, ... have become like luxuries and inaccessible for workers. Working families have to endure the painful restrictions on basic necessities such as food and clothing. The government does not even respect the wages defined by its own labor code, which requires a minimum wage to meet the needs of a family. Precariousness is not limited to wages below the poverty line (several times) and decrees such as the establishment of the “master-trainee” system [sort of apprenticeship], and internship, try on the pretext of economic development and creation of work, bring the level of wages down to the equivalent of a third of current wages. Even if workers' wages represent a tiny part of the cost of products and services. Government aggression at the subsistence level of workers is also widened by modifying the security system and not requiring employers to contribute their share through changes in regulations.

 The workers are confronted every day with problems and lack of occupational safety and health standards. Many workers are victims of workplace accidents every day. Recent accidents include the fire at the Plasco Tower (Tehran) and the run-off of the Zemestan-Yourt mine (North Iran) in which 43 miners were killed. These accidents had great media coverage.

 Accidents at work, particularly in the construction sector, cause many victims every day. The workers are receiving their wages of misery with much delay and one witness the protests of the workers who claim their wages unpaid for more than a year. This situation makes the life of misery that leads workers and their families even more difficult. Non-payment of workers' wages has increased compared to recent years. In this situation, precarious contracts of short duration (even one month), or signed blank have increased a lot. In addition, factory closings have reduced job security, which makes the situation of workers even more complex. We must look for the roots of this imposition of misery on workers in economic policy and the free market supported by entrepreneurs as the waves of privatizations underway. To this must be added the government's ban on the creation of unions and independent workers' organizations. And for this reason, the way of organizing workers is blocked. The regime represses workers who organize themselves by creating unions or other autonomous organizations such as the union of workers of the transport authority of Tehran and its suburbs (Vahed), the union of sugar cane workers Hfat Tapeh, a union of Alborz painters, Professional Association of Teachers, some of whose members and also teachers have been imprisoned or dismissed.

Workers' committee activists suffer the same repression. The police attack workers who have gathered to claim their wages that have not been paid for months or against unfair dismissals and have them followed up by the "revolutionary" courts. Bafgh, Chadormelo, and Agh Dareh mine workers are among the victims of violence by state agents. In particular, it should be noted that the miners of the Agh Daréh mine were whipped in public by the “justice” decision!
Teachers' standard of living and salary are suffering from a crisis.

For example, we can cite the failure of teachers to provide medical care despite the payment of high contributions. Activists and teachers' representatives, particularly in Tehran, are prosecuted, sentenced to prison, or forcibly exiled,
dismissed, and "tried" on unfounded charges. Responsible teachers judge education level below standards due to shortcomings in the education system education and high school graduates are not qualified enough to enter the job market. According to article 30 of the constitution, education must be free, but even public schools have become fee-based. Private schools charge very high fees which produce class differences in education.

 There is no harmony between school, university, and professional life. Teachers on fixed-term contracts are paid per day of work and by delay and have no social security cover, retirement, and job security. In Iran, there are 13 different kinds of schools (free, private, cooperative, mutualists, exemplary public, witnesses, popular, ...) which have
transferred education to commercial agencies. Teachers' salaries are far below the needs of a modest family and teachers are forced to practice, alongside their professions, professions unworthy of their values. Most schools in distant cities and towns lack the necessary equipment to ensure safety
high and do not meet basic security standards to safeguard all high. Vocational education, art, and sport do not have the desired place in the school curriculum. The distribution of milk does not follow a homogeneous program in different schools. The benefits of the end of teachers' careers are not paid on time and even delays of several years. Retired teachers are almost forgotten by the government.
The workers at the Haft Tapeh sugar refinery have struggled for years to get their claims. Among which we can note the payment of delayed wages, a dignified salary, payment of overtime, the retirement situation, and especially the creation of an independent union. They also challenge the privatization of the cane sugar industry and the permanent presence of intelligence agents in the factory. They have had protest actions in the past few days.
The state only recognizes organizations in the pay of the government like "Islamic Labor Council", "professional association", "worker representative" which are completely state-owned and in no way represent workers. They are organized in a non-democratic process without general assemblies and follow the line designated by the government. These institutions prevent the creation of authentic unions and independent workers' organizations. For example, in 2005, officers' well-placed Islamic Labor Council and Worker's House attacked the headquarters of the VAHED union with police collaboration and ransacked union property and injured the workers present. Naturally, the people so designated are presented as the “Workers' representatives” and participate in negotiations and with the government and employers and also participate in the place of workers in international institutions like the O.I.T. (the International Labor Organization). They are not the representatives of the real one of Iranian workers and should not be recognized as such and receive accredited.

As a result, the Iranian workers have become more and more deprived and poorer year by year.  These conditions have effectively reduced the status of Iranian workers to that of ancient slaves, being deprived of all the rights that have been gained during the last hundred years through the suffering and struggle of Iranian workers. They have no right to organize movements; no job security or even minimum safety standards in factories and workshops; no right to protest; and the regime’s response to every protest and strike is imprisonment and torture, or at least dismissal from work.  “The novel coronavirus is a disease, but unemployment is a greater danger. Mortality from corona should not be curbed at the cost of death from poverty and unemployment,” said Rouhani during his cabinet meeting on April 20.  Thus, the regime’s President is forcing Iranian workers to choose between dying of COVID-19 or poverty and unemployment. However, Khamenei and Rouhani have miscalculated the potential of the Iranian workers who will not tolerate this situation. Many regime officials warn about a “massive, severe and violent protest movement” with the participation of the poor (Jahan-e Sanat daily– April 23, 2020), adding  that the “current situation is tantamount to a social bomb that can explode at any moment and lead to social unrest." (Arman daily—April 13, 2020)

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