Canadian Trade Union, TSSU, stands in solidarity with Iranian teachers protests

The Teaching Support Staff Union stands in solidarity with members of the Iranian Teachers Trade Associations (ITTA) who have been protesting for salary raises, better retirement plans and releasing their activists and people who have been arrested in protests.

A wave of nationwide protests by Iranian teachers, retired teachers and other educators has been happening in more than 50 cities in Iran in the past few months. The wave of protests comes amid soaring inflation caused by government mismanagement and by financial sanctions imposed against Iran, which has an immense impact on workers whose compensation does not keep pace with the rising cost of living.

The Iranian government has been actively trying to silence the protests which were initiated by the Coordination Council of Iranian Teachers’ Trade Associations (CCITTA). According to the New York based Center of Human Rights in Iran, authorities have arrested and imprisoned dozens of teachers’ rights activists on manufactured charges that reflect the criminalization in Iran of dissent, peaceful protests and assembly, and independent labor activism,” but this has not stopped the peaceful protests. In another attempt to silence protests, Iran’s parliament approved emergency legislation on December 15 to raise teachers’ salaries following several days of countrywide protests and a three-day strike by thousands of teachers and educators. However, according to the ITTA’s announcement, these legislations do not address the teacher’s concerns properly. The proposed minimum wage is still below poverty line levels and many teachers are excluded from the legislation. Minimum salary is apparently going to be set at about 267 usd, while labor groups insist that the poverty line at the moment in Iran is 400 usd. Minimum wage would not even be half of what a family of 3 would need to survive. On top of that, the government has failed to implement these plans and the protests are going on, with the next one planned for January 29, 2022.

TSSU condemns the arrests and echoes the demand of the ITTA to immediately release imprisoned labor leaders and teachers including Mohammad Taghi Fallahi, the secretary-general of the ITTA in Tehran. Furthermore, TSSU supports and echoes the teachers’ call on the Iranian government to:

  • Provide fair wages and better working conditions for teachers and educators.
  • Grant promised health insurance and retirement benefits.
  • Improve wages and working conditions of cleaning staff.
  • Provide free education for everyone and end discrimination within the education system.

The protests in Iran are particularly concerning because Iran’s government uses its security and army forces to brutally and unlawfully suppress any peaceful protests from various groups of people, including university students, teachers, social and political and feminist activists, ethnic and religious minorities. Common potential consequences facing Iranian protesters include: mass arrest, long prisons, torture and other ill-treatment, deprivation from social rights and the right for higher education, and even getting silently killed in prisons or by execution. In solidarity with all protesters in Iran, and specifically, brave school teachers and CCITTA leaders who speak up for better working conditions, we urge Iran’s authorities to immediately respond to their demands and stop suppressing them.

Awareness of international labour struggles is a crucial component of solidarity with working people and building a better future for workers worldwide. Solidarity of community groups and worker unions nationally and internationally is important in helping workers come to more fair contracts or settlements with employers and governments. Teachers and education workers in Canada, including BC, also face challenges such as government austerity and financial cuts to the education system. These affect working conditions, salaries, retirement plans, and other rights historically won by workers. Moreover, contract workers at SFU are currently fighting for better working conditions for cleaning and food staff by bringing the contract workers in house and RAs at SFU are fighting for a fair collective agreement. We recognize that these struggles and the struggles of the Iranian Teachers are linked and must be fought and won together. TSSU members thus stand in unequivocal solidarity with teachers and education workers in Iran.

TSSU stands in solidarity with Iranian teachers protests – TSSU

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