On May 1, 2023, International Workers’ Day, Iranian workers face crushing inflation, lack of job security, increased unemployment, and temporary contracts. The government’s deliberate disregard for workers’ rights, has contributed to inhumane and dire living conditions for Iranian workers.
Workers who object to these conditions face crackdowns. The government immediately suppresses peaceful protests organized by labor unions as it fears widespread strikes. Last week, security forces stormed the house of Mohammad Habibi, the spokesperson of the Tehran Teacher Union. The attack was followed by the arbitrary arrest of a number of teachers and labor activists, including Reyhane Ansarinejad, Asal Mohammadi, Anisha Asadolahi, Sarvenaz Ahmadi, Kamyar Fakour, Jaleh Rohzad, Oldouz Hashemi, Hirad Pirbodaghi, and Hassan Ebrahimi.
Meanwhile, the government has stepped up its repressive policies against Iranian women who continue to resist policies that dictate to them how they should dress as part of the Women, Life, Freedom movement. These women face extra-judicial reprisals as in an increasingly hostile public sphere. Stores, cafes, restaurants, and shopping centers are being closed down, sealed, or fined for serving women who do not adhere to mandatory hijab laws.
As a member of the International Labor Organization, the Iranian government has advocated the inclusion of “healthy and safe working conditions” as a fundamental ILO principle, yet as the primary responsible body for the protection and promotion of workers’ rights in Iran, it fails to adhere to minimum international standards protecting workers. Instead of adopting legislation designed to create a safe and non-discriminatory working environment for everyone or attempting to provide welfare and improve people’s livelihood, the government has contributed to the creation of a situation, in which at least one-third of the Iranian people currently live below the poverty line, Iranian workers continue to struggle in covering their minimum living expenses including food costs and those objecting to these conditions face arrest and ill treatment.
On international workers day, we call for the release of all Iranian labor rights activists and teachers who have been arrested as a result of their activities to organize for better working conditions and call on the ILO and other international bodies to hold Iran accountable on its international obligations to respect and protect the rights of workers.