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Thousands of Iranian Steelworkers Strike for Better Wages
Economy Middle East

Thousands of Iranian Steelworkers Strike for Better Wages

On Saturday, a large number of individuals belonging to the Free Union of Iranian Workers protested against the Isfahan Steel Company, demanding improved pay and living and working conditions. This strike gained considerable attention, including from state media outlets.

The Telegram channel for the Free Union of Iranian Workers revealed that the strike occurred in response to a continuous protest against the steel company’s failure to meet the workers’ requests. The workers gathered in front of the management building after marching within the factory grounds.

Media sources have stated that workers at Isfahan’s steel plant are demonstrating against unsatisfactory living conditions and low pay. They are also pushing for the correct implementation of a job classification system, fair wages compared to other steel companies, and “other related items.”

On the previous Sunday, employees of Isfahan’s steel company announced a hunger strike, rejecting the food provided by the company as a form of protest.

Fowad Keykhosravi, a member of the board for the Free Union of Iranian Workers, gave an interview to VOA regarding the strike. According to our sources, over 3,000 employees from different divisions within the Isfahan Steel Company joined the strike. This includes workers from departments such as rolling, casting, converter, tall furnace, agglomeration, coke production, and furnaces.

He stated that the protest movement gains strength not only from widespread participation but also from the involvement of workers from evening and night shifts, in addition to their daytime counterparts.

Keykhosravi stated to VOA that the Isfahan steelworkers have specific demands, such as the need to review and fully implement the job classification plan that has only been partially carried out since 2014.

Employees are demanding a wage increase of 30% and the restoration of their wages before the end of the Iranian calendar year on March 20. This is in an effort to address the significant wage gap caused by the increasing cost of living, despite the planned official wage hike for the following year.

The workers’ main requests are for bonuses and wages to be adjusted to match those of other steel companies, such as Mobarakeh Steel.

Keykhosravi highlighted that the large gathering of Isfahan Steel Company workers during the protest has been strengthened by another factor. This factor is the previous harsh response to workers’ protests on February 26, 2023, which included the deployment of special guard forces, detention of many workers, and increased security measures by the company’s security personnel, along with recent security threats.

According to the Fars News Agency, which is linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the demonstration was described as a “labor union meeting” and it was reported that the CEO is currently in communication with the workers. The meeting is not causing any interruptions in production, as employees in certain positions are still carrying out their duties.

Protests by workers in various regions of Iran have significantly risen in recent times, demonstrated through strikes, gatherings, and processions. The government’s efforts to suppress these protests with stricter security and legal actions have not been effective.