By Pooya Stone
Hundreds of retired Iranian teachers gathered outside the Islamic Republic’s Majles (parliament) and offices of Plan and Budget Organization (PBO) in Tehran on Sunday, July 28, to protest their treatment and demand that their pensions be adjusted because of the current economic crisis.
The angry pensioners chanted: “Teachers Die, But Will Never Accept Abjection!” and “We Will Not Step Back, Until Receiving Our Bonuses!”
The teachers had previously held similar rallies outside the PBO and the Ministry of Education on Saturday.
Mohammad Javad Abtahi, a member of parliament’s Commission for Education and Research, said that the caretaker of the Ministry of Education has vowed to adjust the payments before the end of the summer. These payments will partially compensate teachers and retirees for the high rate of inflation that Iran is experiencing, which is partially down to US sanctions but mainly the result of government corruption and mismanagement.
Teachers, both active and retired, have held dozens of protest demonstrations over the past year to demand better pay because they are one of the lowest-paid government employees.
None of these completely reasonable demands have yet been met. Instead, several teachers’ activists have been arrested and sentenced to long terms in prison, prompting more protests calling for their release.
On May 2, which is National Teachers Day in Iran, thousands of educators gathered outside the Education Department offices in at least thirteen provinces to protest the government’s lack of action with regards to Iranian teachers’ demands.
At the end of the rally in Tehran, the Teachers’ Coordinating Council of Iran (TCCI) read a resolution saying that Iranian teachers were deeply unhappy about living “below the poverty line” as well as about the minimal pensions paid to retired educators.
The TCCI also condemned the security forces for their efforts to prevent teachers from creating an independent and united trade union, as well as for keeping several teachers’ rights activists, including Esmaeil Abdi, a board member of the Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association (ITTA), in prison.
However, the Iranian authorities did not react well to the protests and the TCCI reported that dozens of teachers were arrested by security forces for taking part in widespread protests across the country.
Amnesty International reports that since May 2018 the Iranian security forces have detained two dozen teachers and retired educators for protesting. This includes during the three separate strikes that teachers led across Iran since last September.