Iran

Since last week, spontaneous protests have been breaking out in Iran following cuts to subsidies on basic foodstuffs, combined with spiralling inflation. Prices for staples like cooking oil, chicken, milk and eggs have abruptly raised by as much as 300 percent. In past weeks, the price of a kilogram of flour has increased by 500 percent. Subsidy cuts have also caused a 169 percent surge in the price of pasta. This is creating a desperate situation for the masses, provoking a backlash that is combining with workers’ struggles, resulting in an explosive mix.

On 30 to 31 January, tens of thousands of teachers went on strike across Iran in over 300 cities, led by the Teachers’ Coordinating Committee. Slogans at the rallies included: “The teacher would rather die than accept [this] humiliation”, “If there was justice, the teachers would not be here”, and: “We do not have cannons and guns but we have the support of the people”. The strike was met with the arrest of dozens of trade unionists. But this has not discouraged the teachers, who have planned weekly strikes this month and threatened an indefinite strike if their demands are not met.

In the past month, there have been over 230 strikes and protests across Iran. Since their national three-day strike from 10–13 December, teachers’ protests, led by a Teachers’ Coordinating Council, have continued across Iran. Sporadic strikes continue among oil workers in Khuzestan, and on a nearly daily basis, there are reports of workers at major factories spontaneously launching indefinite strike action.

This month has seen a relentless series of over 230 strikes and protests in Iran. The most prominent of these was a two-day teachers’ strike on 11-13 December, involving tens of thousands of teachers in hundreds of cities across the country. The regime responded by arresting over 200 teachers and trade unionists.

Since 8 November, thousands of farmers have been protesting in Isfahan, Iran, over the drying up of the Zayanderud river, the major river in the province. They have been calling for the distribution of water reserves to farmers. Having been ignored by the regime, farmers occupied the dried-up riverbed in front of Khaju bridge. In the early morning of 25 November, riot police set the farmers’ tents ablaze: the beginning of a government crackdown against the increasingly militant protests. Clashes between protesters and the regime continued for three days, with 210 arrested, 20 injured and three deaths confirmed.

In the last month there have been over 150 strikes and protests across Iran. This is only the latest strike wave since 2018. The ongoing struggles include oil workers in Khuzestan, the Haft Tappeh sugar plantation workers, miners in Azerbaijan, Khorasan and Kerman, national protests of teachers, and ongoing farmers’ protests among others. All the while, the social crisis in Iran is continuing to plummet to new depths.

Since 15 July, protests over a severe water shortage in Khuzestan province in Iran have developed into a powerful localised movement, which has now spread to all major cities of the province: Shush, Susangard, Izeh, Dezful, Kut Abdullah, Weiss, Mahshahr, Hamidiyeh, Chamran and several areas of Ahvaz. The regime has declared martial law but this has only had the effect of provoking protests in a further 16 provinces.

On 20 June, contracted oil and gas workers in Assaluyeh went on strike. Since then, more oil and gas workers across Iran have joined the strikes, with over a hundred strikes now ongoing and that number continuing to grow. The workers are demanding: 10 days off after 20 days of work (10-20 scheme), a minimum wage across the sector of 12 million tomans, and trade union rights. These demands have found widespread support in the entire hydrocarbon sector and in the working class at large. Inspired by the oil and gas workers, strikes are breaking out among railway construction workers, truck drivers and steelworkers. All the while, protests by pensioners, teachers, medical staff and farmers

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On 18 June, the Islamic Republic of Iran held its presidential election, which was met by a widespread boycott by the masses. The official figure for turnout was 48%, with the regime’s desired candidate, Raisi, winning with 61.9%, with blank votes coming second on 12.8%. The real turnout however could have been even lower, with some estimates placing it between 25 and 35 percent. There have been reports of some polling stations being completely abandoned. This was an absolute sham of an election, which saw the lowest turnout and the highest number of blank votes in the history of the Islamic Republic. This comes on the back of a continuous wave of strike action and protests that

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The upcoming 18 June presidential elections in Iran are turning into an even greater farce than usual. In the past, the regime would have at least projected the appearance of competition, approving competing candidates from its various factions. This year, however, it has only approved seven candidates: all from the hardline, conservative faction. This move comes from a position of weakness, exposing the crisis of the regime.

On 22 May, 1,400 farmers protested against the lack of permanent access to water in the Iranian province of Isfahan. The regime answered by sending riot police, who brutally beat the farmers, who fought back, leading to clashes. This was not an isolated incident; there is widespread discord among farmers, with recent protests in Khuzestan, Sistan-Balochistan, Khorasan and elsewhere.

Protests and strikes are now spreading across every sector of the economy in Iran. There have been at least 100 strikes and protests over the course of the past few months. While not yet on the scale that we have seen in the recent past, pensioners and workers receiving social security have also held weekly protests across the country.

On 11 April a huge explosion at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in Iran caused a power cut. When the power suddenly stops, this causes the rotors of the giant machines used to enrich uranium to stop spinning which, according to Iranian officials, caused 60-70% of them to be destroyed. They were quick to blame “countries” which were aiming to ruin renewed efforts to save the nuclear deal through “nuclear terrorism”. This was a clear implication that Israel was the culprit. Not long later, Israeli press confirmed this was indeed the case.

Discontent continues to simmer across Iran. Since the beginning of December, there have been at least 240 strikes and protests. The protests are spreading to ever-wider layers of society, including students, bazaaris, retirees, the unemployed, and workers from every sector.

On Wednesday 25 November, five strikes broke out in the Iranian oil sector. At least three thousand workers have come out, demanding their unpaid wages to be paid and the previous promises of the management and the government to be fulfilled. This is a part of a continuing strike wave, which in October saw the largest number of strikes since the Iranian revolution of 1979.

A wave of protests is sweeping Iran. There were 331 strikes and demonstrations reported in August involving all sectors: from the oil-and-gas sector, to students in the municipalities, farmers and more.

Since August, a strike wave has spread through Iran like wildfire, involving workers across various sectors from the petroleum industry to public services; from Khuzestan in the south-west to Mashhad in the north-east.

The coronavirus has hit Iran especially badly due to government blunders, misinformation and US sanctions. This crisis has exposed all the rottenness of Iranian capitalism and brought the masses' anger at the regime, which was already heating up, close to boiling point.