Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 28 November 2018

Workers at the forefront of the new wave of protests in Iran

2018 Workers Day protests in Iran, photo

2018 Workers Day protests in Iran, photo   (Click to enlarge)

P Daryaban, Committee for a Workers' International (CWI)

The Iranian economy is in freefall, and the Iranian working class is the main target of this slump. Prices of staples are increasing day by day.

The regime has only delivered empty words, and its explanation of the situation is contradictory and deceiving.

In the summer, the regime's supreme leader, Khamenei, said that "not all our problems stem from the sanctions but from internal issues and the way of our management and policy-making".

Afterwards, Rouhani, the regime's so-called president, referring to the US sanctions, said: "The country is in a state of war and the people must tolerate the problems". But later he, like Khamenei, confessed that not all of Iran's problems could be attributed to sanctions.

The economic crisis led to protests in December 2017, which heralded the beginning of a new phase of class struggle. However, the subsequent nationwide crackdown on protesters and the arrest of more than 4,000 people could not put the genie back in the bottle.

In August 2018 protests occurred in tens of Iranian cities and towns. These protests, like the ones in 2017, had two characteristics: firstly, they were fully independent from both factions of the regime and fully mistrusting of both. Secondly, the bulk of the protests were comprised of the poor, workers, and women, especially in remote and small towns.

Countless small and big campaigns, pickets and demonstrations by workers, women, university students, environmentalists, shopkeepers, farmers, lorry drivers and depositors in bankrupt banks filled the gap between the peaks of the protests, and with every step, the people and workers have learnt new lessons.

Industrial workers

Currently, the pinnacle of the new wave of protests is the strike of workers at the Haft-Tappeh Agro-Industry Company.

Haft-Tappeh is located in the north of the oil-rich Khuzestan province of Iran. The company cultivates sugar cane in 100,000 hectares. It can produce 100,000 metric tonnes of sugar a year but the actual production is about 50,000 metric tonnes.

The government declared the company bankrupt in the mid-2000s, and decided to sell it off to the private sector. It was privatised in 2015. Privatisation saw the number of workers reduced from 7,000 to 4,000.

The workforce, especially in the plantation, suffers intolerable and tough conditions in the area's extreme humidity and high temperatures.

A government report says the company suffers from inadequate liquidity, uses obsolete technology and has high production costs. Some sources also refer to lowering the tariff for imported sugar that dealt a blow to domestic sugar production.

Workers have been victims of the crisis in capitalism and corruption and mismanagement. Haft-Tappeh workers have frequently gone on strike over unpaid wages. Their strike in September ended after the bosses agreed to pay the owed wages.

However, the failure to pay the wages for four months caused infuriated workers to not only go on strike again from 4 November, but extend their protests to the nearby town Shush.

On 16 November, Haft-Tappeh workers occupied the Friday prayers compound to voice their protest in the regime's heart of power. They disrupted the state-organised religious ceremony by roaring angry slogans in which they called the religious official 'an enemy of the people'.

The following day, the workers, together with their wives and children, took the streets of Shush, and thousands of the town's people joined their demonstration.

The Haft-Tappeh strike has shown the rise of class consciousness among workers with every step they have taken. Esmail Bakhshi, one of the Haft-Tappeh union's leaders, said: "Workers no longer allow the private sector to control the company, and if the government wants to take over, all the company's business must be managed by the workers' council and based on collective decision-making."

Rising consciousness

Loads of videos and photos went viral on social media, each displaying a dazzling scene of workers' rising consciousness. In one video, workers chanted "bread, jobs, freedom, council management".

This slogan was not only a direct attack on the regime and its tyrannical and barbarous rule but on the pro-imperialist, pro-monarchy and right-wing opposition. Both counter-revolutionary camps alike dread the slogan.

Women workers bravely appeared as speakers and invited workers from all over the country to support the Haft-Tappeh strike.

Workers in other industrial centres like Arak and Ahvaz declared their solidarity. Workers of the steel company, on the sixth day of their strike, held a rally in Ahvaz, the province's capital, and enthusiastically expressed solidarity with Haft-Tappeh workers.

An amazing video showed a woman teacher attending the workers' picket and saying she came to the workers because no protest had happened in her town and she decided to voice teachers' demands at the workers' rally.

Iron hand

The regime sent riot police forces to Shush on 18 November to intimidate the hungry workers. Later, fearing that using force might pour fuel onto the fire, the regime evacuated its forces from the town.

However, the regime arrested about 20 workers, including Esmail Bakhshi, and a female journalist who was preparing a report on the protest.

Undoubtedly, the regime may use force and arrest more workers, but hungry workers have nothing to lose but their chains!

In less than one year, the Iranian working class has taken big leaps forward.

These expanding struggles have loosened the regime's grip and created a space, though still shaky and narrow, for political activity among the working class.

A number of Iranian left parties in exile have started an attempt to organise united actions. This must be linked with developing a network of workers' movement activists and leaders inside the country, and raising the flag of internationalism and lining up with the world's working people's struggles.

Donate to the Socialist Party

Finance appeal

The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
Inevitably, during the crisis we have not been able to sell the Socialist and raise funds in the ways we normally would.
We therefore urgently appeal to all our viewers to donate to our Fighting Fund.

Please donate here.

All payments are made through a secure server.

My donation


Your message: 


In The Socialist 28 November 2018:

What we think

End Tory misery - general election now!

For a socialist alternative to the EU - mobilise to kick out the Tories!

International socialist news and analysis

Eyewitness: French protesters seize streets against President Macron

San Francisco Bay Area's toxic smoke crisis and capitalism's mismanagement

Workers at the forefront of the new wave of protests in Iran


Haringey 'Corbyn council': end the secrecy and confusion - lead a fight against the cuts

The Tories' letting fee ban is full of holes - we need rent controls and council homes!


PCS Left Unity election: All votes should count

Cammell Laird shipbuilding workers strike against job cuts on merseyside

College lecturers in Wales strike against low pay and workload

Black Friday day of action against Amazon


We need system change to halt climate change

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Islwyn Labour Party calls for council no-cuts budget

Scrap the Tories' Universal Credit now!

Reclaim the Night marches condemn violence against women

King George A&E faces closure again

Southampton: Join the pledge to resist cuts

"Horrendous" - Bristol's privatised buses

Nat West's benefit-claimant eviction policy


Wonderful socialist play finds Edwardian poverty not in past

End "poverty, ill health and despair":a benefits adviser speaks out against the cuts

Trump is capricious and dangerous - but is he really in charge?


Home   |   The Socialist 28 November 2018   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleStrike wave marks new stage in revival of Iranian workers' movement

triangleIran: Renewed wave of protests and strikes

triangleRenewed protests shake Iranian leaders

triangleLondon: Protesters return to oppose Middle East war

triangleTrump attacks Iran - London protest: We need workers' action against war and austerity


triangleJustice for Mohamud Hassan!

triangleBooks that inspired me: The Road to Wigan Pier

triangleTrump Twitter ban: only independent workers' voice can defeat right

triangleVaccine confidence - a worker's response


triangleRolls-Royce Barnoldswick factory future secured following strike action

triangleBritish Gas strike continues

trianglePlymouth rent strike continues


triangleNews in Brief

triangleCovid: Bosses chase profit and put workers in danger


triangleA world in crisis, ripe for revolution


triangleUSA in crisis - the need for a socialist alternative





How should socialists respond to the 6 January attacks on Capitol Hill?



US in crisis - need for a mass workers' party and socialist programme



Right populism after Trump



Malaysia: Massive capitalist exploitation of migrant workers exposed by Covid pandemic



After the polarised elections - what way forward?



US presidential election 2020



Chile: A defeat for the right!



Poland: Mass protests against abortion ban



Nigeria protests shake regime



Bolivia elections: Crushing defeat for the right as MAS secures landslide victory



"We need a leadership that comes from the movement"



US presidential election



Greek workers and socialists celebrate convictions of Golden Dawn fascists



Nigeria: Mass protests force government to disband killer cop unit



'Frozen conflict' reignites in Nagorno-Karabakh enclave

triangleMore International articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: [email protected]

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 075 4018 9052

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041



Alphabetical listing

January 2021