Labor struggles are fast spreading in Iran at this critical moment—but it sure isn’t winning much news coverage in the West. From the Italian news agency AKI, March 6:
Thousands of teachers staged a rally on Tuesday in front of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, in Tehran asking Iranian education minister Mahmoud Farshidi to step down, their salaries to be raised and that colleagues fired for political reasons be reinstated. The protest, the second in just a week by teachers, was called by 30 teachers’ unions. Last Saturday, an estimated 50,000 professors protested, threatening to block mid-term exams and to strike until their fired colleagues, as many as 1,500 only in Kurdistan, were given their jobs back.
Iranian authorities are openly worried about the wave of protests also by workers in other professional sectors.
In an editorial on its mouthpiece, the magazine ‘Sobhe Sadegh’, the Revolutionary Guard Pasdaran wrote that “apparently someone is exploiting social discontent to undermine society and cause a crisis.” According to the Pasdaran, “the teachers’ protests, the strikes by labour workers, the students’ dissent along with international pressure on the nuclear issue, the explosions in Baluchistan [recent violence in the southeast province blamed on separatist groups], ethnic strife, allegations of government in-fighting and the news of an alleged illness of [Iran’s supreme leader Ali] Khamenei are all part of a strategy to hit the Islamic Republic.”
On Tuesday, a group of workers with the furniture factory Taleghani who have not been paid for the past seven months and workers with electronics industry Damavand, who have not received a salary for the past 15 months, also staged rallies in front of parliament.
Many protests have also been taking place in Tehran universities including Shahre Kurd, Shahroud and Shiraz.
In the Amir Kabir university, where Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was publicly challenged for the first time last December by a group of students, members of the Islamic association of students clashed with university guards who were trying to prevent them from participating in a rally of solidarity towards 33 women’s rights activists arrested on Sunday.
All students’ associations in Iran had been notified by university authorities after the arrests that they would not be allowed to organise any rally or university meeting on feminism or women’s rights before International Women’s Day on 8 March.