More than a thousand construction and petrochemical workers protested outside the Iranian parliament last month.
Construction workers are angry at government plans to stop social insurance for 400,000 workers in the industry and end it completely for new workers. The plans will enable developers to make bigger profits.
Around a hundred dismissed workers from Ilam Petrochemicals joined the construction workers on 16 November. The company is refusing to reinstate the sacked workers despite a ruling by the Labour Office that they be allowed back into the plant. The workers are also demanding back-pay.
Independent trade unions in the country continue to fight for workers’ rights, even though they are not recognized in the country.
“The catastrophic economic situation in Iran and the policies of the regime have taken away the protection of labour law from workers, especially in the construction industries,” says Jamshid Ahmadi an Iranian activist working with the Union of Metalworkers and Mechanics of Iran (UMMI). “Millions of Iranian workers have grievances against their employers for unpaid work, for being laid off and for other violations of their basic rights.”
Despite the serious personal risk they take in protesting, angry workers have been gathering and demonstrating outside the parliament and government ministries to demand justice.
“The UMMI and associated independent trade unions are doing their best to find ways to ensure that these protest actions are organized and focused in their demands,” says Ahmadi.
However, building union power and improving working conditions is a mammoth struggle and the reason why UMMI is looking to IndustriALL Global Union for support says Ahmadi: “We have a long way to go before trade unions are able to effectively give voice to all workers."