JEDDAH: Protest strikes in Iran by truckers and bazaar storekeepers have spread to the country’s schools.
Thousands of teachers have been on strike for the past three days over what they describe as “poverty level” pay.
“In this land not only teachers but all should live in conditions fit for human beings,” striking teacher Jafar Ebrahimi told the Iranian website Meidaan. “They must raise our salaries above the poverty line.”
The strike was called by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI). Teachers say their salaries are under pressure because of soaring prices and a severe drop in purchasing power because of the fall in value of the Iranian rial.
Iran’s economy has been struggling in particular since May, when US President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear program. Tough economic sanctions, relaxed under the deal, were reimposed in August. Further sanctions targeting Iran’s oil trade begin on Nov. 4.
“Out-of-control inflation and climbing prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen significantly,” the CCTSI said before the strike.
“What’s more, the cost of education is on the rise, and the Iranian government and Parliament have failed to answer to teachers’ faltering quality of life and the ailing education system. The time has come for us to protest against this systemic disorder.”
Support for the striking teachers came from Maryam Rajavi, president of Iran’s exiled de facto opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Rajavi urged the Iranian people, particularly the youth, to join her in solidarity with the teachers, the truck drivers and the bazaar merchants. Truckers in the northwestern province of Qazvin have been on strike for three weeks in protest at the cost of spare parts for their vehicles, and many storekeepers have closed their premises in support.
“Since anti-government demonstrations erupted throughout Iran in December, strikes have become a popular way for citizens of different walks of life and social classes to protest against the corruption and inefficiency of the Iranian regime,” the NCRI said.