May Day in Iran is not recognized as workers’ holiday. On May Day workers go to work as usual and lack the right to protest for their basic internationally recognized rights. For many years workers activists have been fighting the government to recognize May Day as workers’ day.
Many of these activists are incarcerated and tortured just because they seek to create independent workers’ organizations, increasing the wages based on the inflation rate, freedom of strike, protest and speech. These are some of the many unfulfilled demands that have been accumulated since the revolution in 1979.
Despite the repression, mass arrests and persecution, workers continue striking and protesting for their rights. Workers’ protests in the past have called for wages rise compatible with inflation, payment of unpaid and delayed wages, in some cases for more than a year, work place safety, halt to mass layoffs, removal of contractors from the workplace, elimination of temporary work contracts, and creation of independent workers’ organization.
To protest against the minimum wage set by the government last year which approximately was (and still is) four times below poverty line “Free Union of Iranian Workers” collected over 30 thousands signatures in three rounds, each round with 10 thousands signatures with names, place of work and address.
The petition was handed to Ministry of Labour, Cooperatives and Social Welfare, House of Representative and Office of the President but the government officials disregarded the petition and persecuted some of activist workers and petition’s coordinators.
This year also the government did not allow any independent workers’ organisation to openly celebrate May Day, but we read from “Free Union of workers in Iran” that “Today, 1st of May, the coordinators of “Thirty thousand workers petition” in solidarity with millions of workers around the world, celebrate May Day, International Workers’ Day by holding a protest rally in front of Parliament.” The protest ended by security forces compelling protesters to evacuate the premises.
According to reports from various factories, companies and workers’ quarters in Tehran, and Karaj city, various events were held to celebrate May Day this year. In Sanandaj, Kurdistan, workers gathered in the city centre and celebrated May Day. Security forces attacked protesters and a number of them were arrested and taken to prison for further interrogation. Similar gathering were organized by workers’ activists in other cities and security forces demonstrated a coordinated respond by attacking and disrupting all these celebrations.