In 2016, in Iran, there were 2,171 collective protests in several different cities. This, despite the regime’s suppressive anti-labor measures.
State run ISNA news agency on February 26, 2017, reported Guard Hossein Ashtar as saying in response to these high numbers, ”Now because of the closure of some factories and credit institutions, rallies are held that occasionally reach to 20-30 per day, and these rallies must be well managed. Because occurring of an accident in a city can have national and international repercussions. “
More than 2,000 workers at Hormozgan aluminum factory were the first to stage a long protest against unpaid salaries.
Workers at Isfahan Polyacryl followed, by repeatedly protesting nearly a year of unpaid salaries, and in a brave action, expelled the director, who was affiliated with the regime, from the factory.
The labor protests included workers' protest of Ghou (Swan) vegetable oil, Mahabad agribusiness, Azmayesh, workers of Almas Matteh in Tabas, and the protest of hundreds of drivers of Gol Gohar Mine in Sirjan, who blocked the roads with burning tires.
The labor protests escalated with the arrests and imprisonments of activist workers. Another factor that contributed to the increase in protests is the nonpayment of insurance premiums by the regime's agents, resulting in workers being forced to pay the cost of treatment out of their own pockets.
Job security played into the soaring demonstrations, as firing of workers after twenty some years of work was was caused by the privatization of such businesses as Hormozgan aluminum and Zanjan transformer factory. Workers resisted these lay-offs with large scale demonstrations.
Although there are no statistics on the exact number of workers laid off, an article published by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) states that some government statistics indicate that tens of thousands of workers have been dismissed from their jobs.
During the first 6 months of 2016, 15,000 workers were fired, according to the head of the Chamber of Commerce of Isfahan.
State run news agency ISNA reported on October 26, 2016, that in Qazvin province, 4,000 workers were fired within 6 months.
State run news agency ILNA quoted the Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining Industries of the Ministry of Industry and Trade on August 10, 2016. He said, “During the past few months 50 to 60 iron ore mines were closed, and 5,000 workers became unemployed. In addition, in Shamsabad Industrial Park, from 3,800 manufacturing and industrial units, the activities of 2,600 of them have stopped.”
The head of the Union of Tehran Brick Makers claims that half of this sector’s factories (150 factories) were closed, and the other half worked with a fifth of their capacity. The work force in these units dropped from 30 thousand to 2 thousand people. 33% of Semnan industrial units - 621 units of a total of 1,792 units - are closed. 30% of the total textiles workforce were dismissed.
State-run Tasnim news agency wrote that 7,000 industrial units were stagnant and 2,000 units were semi active.
The NCRI writes, “The mullahs’ regime has destroyed all independent labor organizations and governmental organizations such as the so-called Workers' House or Islamic Councils role is to suppress the workers, not bringing up the demands of the workers. Another difference between Iran under the rule of the Mullahs and other countries in terms of protests is that since the majority of companies and factories in Iran are in the hands of the IRGC and the government, any labor protest has a political and anti-government message.” They add, “In fact, workers emphasized on the main cause of the plunder of their rights which is the mullahs' regime, and from the May Day of last year to this year raised their protests in different ways.”