Textile workers at the Behshahr’ Chintz-making factory in Behshahr, Mazandaran Province, Iran staged an angry protest on April 16, 2003 against the withholding of their wages over the past 26 months. They were eventually joined by nearly 30,000 workers from textile and other sectors as well as the city’s residents at large. The protesters faced harsh attacks by security forces, in which tear gas and other weapons were used against them.
Behshahr workers are not alone in their struggle for payment of delayed wages. According to the 2002 survey by the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, at least one million workers in Iran have not been receiving their wages. Sit-ins, strike actions, demonstrations and blockage of roads are some of the methods used by protesting workers in their struggles against delayed payment of wages and for improved working conditions and better social and income security programs.
Workers in Iran are facing many challenges in their struggles for the realization of their rights and demands. One of the main barriers is the Islamic Republic of Iran’s repressive and anti-worker labour law, policies and practices, which encompass lack of the right to organize free and independent workers’ organizations and the right to strike, persecution of labour activists and political opponents, lay offs, cut backs, and privatizations and deregulations in pursuit of the “economic structural adjustment” policies of the international Monetary Fund, World Bank and global and national corporations.