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The intensifying wave of strikes by Iran’s railroad workers

Protests by railroad workers in Azerbaijan
Protests by railroad workers in Azerbaijan

Reported by PMOI/MEK

 

Iran, Feb. 17, 2019 - In recent weeks, strikes and protests by railroad workers in different regions of Iran have intensified. Most of the striking workers are employed by contractors companies like Travers, and their salaries aren’t guaranteed. In some cases, the workers have not received their pay for more than 20 months.

These workers don’t have official contracts and are being forced into unfair conditions by their employers, sometimes called “white contracts.” There’s no legal and judicial backing for their most basic right, which is being compensated for their hard work.

To obtain their rights, the contract railroad workers have formed syndicates and unions with other workers and have organized their movement to hold the regime and government-backed companies to account for respecting their rights.

 

A look at the problems of railroad workers

On Thursday, nearly 600 railroad workers in Marand, Jolfa and Ajab Shir in Azerbaijan province held demonstrations in protest to not receiving their salaries.

The workers are also faced with insurance problems and poor yearly bonuses in addition to not receiving their salaries on time.

Another problem is that contracts are becoming smaller and smaller. Currently many of the railroad workers are on 15-day contracts, which is without precedent. As the duration of contracts become reduced, the work conditions of the workers deteriorate. Under such circumstances, job security has no meaning.

 

Protests by railroad workers in Mashhad (Archive)

Protests by railroad workers in Mashhad (Archive)

 

The Iranian regime recently retired 400 worn-out wagons from its railroad systems and has no plans to replace them. This will endanger the jobs of 3,000 hospitality workers, electricians and repair workers.

Elsewhere, the train wagon factory of Arak is slowly inching toward being shut down and its workers are joining the ranks of millions of unemployed Iranians. And Iran’s transportation problems remain unsolved as the Iranian regime continues to squander the country’s wealth on fueling conflicts and violence in other Middle East countries and filling the pockets of its terrorist proxies like Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthis in Yemen.

 

The lives of Iran’s railroad workers has collapsed

The railroad workers of Iran are struggling to make ends meet and provide the most basic needs for their families. In some cases, they’re forced to borrow from friends and family to buy their basic necessities.

Iranian regime officials have become used to seeing people being deprived of their salaries, the workers say. No one is being held to account for the miseries they are enduring. “The workers' stomachs won’t be filled with empty promises. We will not remain silent,” one of the Iranian railroad workers said.

 

Strikes and protests by Iranian railroad workers in Azerbaijan

Railroad workers in Tabriz and Ajab Shir began strikes on February 12 and have continued until now. These workers have not received their salaries and bonuses since the last Persian New Year (March 2018) as well as compensation for their extra work hours.

In their demonstration, the workers were holding banners that read: “Workers are ashamed of their spouses and children being hungry and of their debts to others.” The workers were demanding regime officials to respond to their demands and to hold Travers, the contractor company that has withheld their salaries, to account.

 

Strikes and protests by railroad workers in southern Iran

On February 4, workers of the Zagros railroad project in Andimeshk, Khuzestan province, held demonstrations in protest to three months’ worth of unpaid wages.

The workers of Khuzestan’s railroad have been regularly protesting because of poor work conditions and unpaid salaries. In July, the workers held protests to months-overdue wages, but again, regime officials only gave promises that were later neglected.

Labor protests and demonstration over unpaid wages and poor work conditions have become a common scene across Iran and are not limited to railway workers. The past year has seen numerous strikes and demonstrations by different segments of the Iranian society, including workers, merchants, truck drivers, teachers and farmers, most of which are expressing their dissatisfaction with government corruption and mismanagement of the country’s economy.

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