Teachers in dozens of cities across Iran held protest rallies on May 1 to raise their longstanding demands for better wages and working conditions, education reform, and the release of arrested teachers.
Protests were reported in Tehran, Shiraz, Tabriz, Isfahan, Rasht, Kermanshah, Khorramabad, Arak, Saqqez, Bushehr, Ardabil, among others. Participants included working as well as retired teachers.
In Tehran, security forces had surrounded and blocked the Majlis (parliament) and its surrounding streets to prevent teachers from holding their rallies. The teachers held their demonstration in one of the nearby parks.
The teachers are demanding the full implementation of the government service law, the “Teachers Ranking” bill, and the adjustment of salaries according to growing inflation rates and the depreciation of the national currency. The teachers are fighting for their most basic rights, including the increase of their wages above the poverty line, which currently stands at around 120-140 million rials per month. Most teachers receive half of that amount. According to the regime’s own stats, there is a 40-percent gap between the income of teachers and the costs of living.
In their May Day statement, the teachers said that teachers and workers in Iran have been denied of their basic universal rights, including wages above the poverty line, health care, social security, and the right to assembly and protests.
So far, the regime has either ignored the teachers’ pleas or has responded with force and suppression.
In the past few months, the regime’s security forces have arrested dozens of teachers and labor activists. Some have been given heavy sentences or fines, and others have been summoned to court. The regime is doing everything it can to intimidate the public to prevent protests from taking place. But the teachers have returned to the streets nonetheless and are reiterating their demands. These rallies are taking place against the backdrop of several rounds of nationwide protests by teachers in the past year.
Some of the slogans the teachers were chanting on Sunday included:
“Imprisoned teachers must be released!”
“The [Education] Minister is a disgrace!”
“Teachers don’t belong in prison!”
“Iran is no place for cruelty!”
Videos obtained from the protests show heavy security presence in cities where rallies are taking place. In some cities, security forces have attacked protesters. Some reports indicate that at least 15 teachers were arrested during Sunday’s protests.