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Iranian Teachers Stage Nationwide Strikes To Protest 'Unfair Wages,' Jailing Of Activists

Iranian teachers protest in Alborz Province on March 4. They are holding signs expressing dissatisfaction with hyperinflation and low wages.

Dozens of teachers staged sit-ins in schools across Iran for the third consecutive day to protest against low salaries and the jailing of teachers' rights activists.

The strikes were organized by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI), which said on March 5 that educators at more than 1,000 primary and secondary schools in Tehran, Isfahan, Hamadan, Karaj, Kermanshah, Shiraz, Yazd, and dozens of other cities and towns had participated in the protests.

The turnout at sit-ins in the capital was low, it said.

State-run media did not cover the strikes and there were no official comments from the authorities.

No arrests were reported during the sit-ins, but previous strikes have been met with a harsh response from authorities, with many teachers arrested or detained.

Iranian teachers held two rounds of sit-ins late last year.

In late December 2017 and early January 2018, thousands took to the streets of more than 80 cities and towns to protest rising prices, unemployment, and corruption.

Surge In Prices

Many Iranians are struggling to make ends meet due to a surge in the prices of food staples and other goods with the national currency's value plummeting in part due to U.S. sanctions imposed on Iran’s economy following President Donald Trump’s decision to pullout from the 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers.

The CCTSI said the teachers' strikes were launched to protest against "unfair wages" and "the continued arrest of [teachers rights] activists."

The teachers also call for the removal of all legal hurdles for the creation of independent trade unions.

Photos and videos showed teachers in empty classrooms holding sheets of papers with the date, the name of their city, and their demands.

The images and videos were shared widely on Twitter, with hashtags like #teachers_sitin and #nationwide_strike.

According to the official government news agency IRNA, teachers' salaries are between 4,000,000 and 13,000,000 rials, which would put the minimum salary at around $100 according to the unofficial exchange rate.

"Out-of-control inflation and rising prices have gripped the country, and the purchasing power of teachers, like that of many other hard-working classes, has fallen inexorably," CCTSI said in a statement issued ahead of the strikes.

Several prominent teacher activists, including Esmaeil Abdi, Mahmud Beheshti Langarudi, Mohammad Habibi, Ruhollah Mardani, and Abdul Reza Qanbari, are behind bars.

They are accused of various "security crimes," but labor rights activists say they were jailed for their participation in teachers' union activities.

The crackdown on the protesting teachers has been condemned by international human rights organizations.

With reporting by IRNA