By Mahmoud Hakamian
Since the end of last year, the people of Iran have been protesting against the corrupt regime. People were initially protesting against the general issues that affected most of the population such as the Iranian regime’s mismanagement of the country’s economy and resources. However, as time has gone on, the protests have been becoming more and more specific and different sectors of society have been highlighting issues that personally affect them.
Most recently, railway workers have been striking. On Saturday 27th October, there were a large number of messages posted on social media with regards to a railway worker strike. The strikes are still continuing.
The railway workers have the responsibility of keeping the network running 24/7. The current strike is the third major strike that the railway workers have initiated in the past 6 months. They have held smaller strikes intermittently between the major ones.
One of the major grievances of the railway workers is the fact that the payment of their salaries has been delayed once again for three to four months. Workers have been heard demanding the payment of their salaries during the protests.
The economic situation in Iran is getting worse and worse and the delay in receiving their wages is having a major impact on their lives. Essential commodities are getting more and more expensive. Even if they received their salaries on time they would still be struggling, but the withholding of payment is exacerbating their situation.
Officials have said that their wages are coming and that their needs will be attended to. Pensions are still being withheld too despite promises.
The railway workers have been hearing empty promises for months and they know they are being fobbed off. There are approximately 6,500 railway workers that are taking part in the current protests and they are situated across the whole country including in the provinces of Lorestan, Khorasan, Azerbaijan, Isfahan and Zanjan.
The workers are calling on the authorities to answer their demands. Some are calling for permanent contracts and more job security. They want guarantees that they will not be subjected to unbridled layoffs and they want to receive their wages on time every month. They also want their pensions to be guaranteed and they wants the insurance problems to be resolved.
In a statement, railway workers in the Iranian capital said: “We have not received our demands and pensions at a time when we are facing an increase in prices of ordinary goods on a daily basis and we literally lack the ability to provide for our basic needs. We railway workers are among the most deprived branch of society and the wages we are from contracting companies are provided at a very minimum. In the best of circumstances, a railway worker is receiving 15 million to 17 million rials a month ($107 to $121).
Most of this goes to provide for the mortgage, water, electricity, and gas. Even if we are able to pay for these expenses, it will be through extreme difficulties and even further dilemmas will come our way.”