Analysis by PMOI/MEK
On Sunday, workers, teachers, farmers, creditors, and pensioners held protest rallies in dozens of cities across Iran:
- Graduate teachers in Tehran
- Retired employees of Homa Airlines
- Dairy farmers in Yazd, Mashhad, Shiraz, Isfahan, Hamedan, Quchan, and Gonabad
- Retired employees of the steel industry in Tehran and Khuzestan
- Pensioners in Tehran, Isfahan, Mashhad, and Shush
- Creditors of Azvico company in Tehran
- Pharmacists in Isfahan
- Employees of Shiraz oil refinery
- Workers of Gama company
This is happening while oil and petrochemical workers of more than 60 companies across Iran are holding an ongoing strike that is in its second week and is expanding every day. The workers are protesting their low wages, their poor working conditions, and authorities’ lack of commitment to address their problems.
The continuation and expansion of protests has reached a point that the regime’s own state-controlled media are admitting to the worrying conditions. State-run media usually try to ignore or downplay protests. But on Sunday, Asr-e Khabar website acknowledged that “thousands of contract workers in the oil, gas, and petrochemical sectors” are on strike for more than a week.
What makes these protests even more significant is that official workers are joining the strikes. The regime had previously threatened the contract workers that if they do not end their strike, they will be dismissed. With official, government-employed workers joining the strikes, the regime will have a much harder time carrying out its threats.
The oil-sector protest is especially critical because it is affecting one of the key sector of the Iranian economy. The regime is in need of oil revenue to cover the expenses of its repression and terrorism apparatus. It was already facing complications due to various sanctions on its oil industry. Now, with operations in oil refineries slowing to a halt, the regime is under even more pressure.
On the other hand, in the past seven months, Iran has witnessed a continuous and linked series of protests by different segments of the society. There is virtually no community and industry in Iran that has not been negatively impacted by the regime’s corrupt economic policies.
Poverty in Iran has reached a point that vital food items are disappearing from the people’s tables one by one. The regime’s poor coronavirus response has caused further decline in the economy and made life worse for the people.
Etemad newspaper wrote on Sunday, “The fact that the Social Security Organization admits that 30 million people are in absolute poverty shows that the conditions are beyond being expressed in charts and numbers. The country needs fast decisions or else the damage caused by inflation in different sectors will be irreparable.”
Moreover, the people have still not forgotten the brutal repression of the November 2019 protests, in which security forces gunned down more than 1,500 protesters in streets across the country.
In such circumstances, regime authorities know full well that the society is on the verge of explosion, and all it take is one spark the set it off.
As the state-run Sharq newspaper warned on Sunday, “Ignoring the dissatisfaction of the people can lead to unrest and widen the political gap, which will only intensify the dissatisfaction and anger of citizens.”
On the other hand, the people know full well that the regime will not solve their problems. In the past four decades, they’ve seen the government change hands between the so-called “moderates” and “hardliners.” But the only constant in the people’s lives has been their worsening living conditions. That’s why they boycotted the elections and are now back in the streets to claim their rights.