Teachers in Iran will be converging upon the Iranian Parliament today at one o'clock in the afternoon to demand for better pay and working conditions, and the release of all jailed colleagues. They are also calling for the withdrawal of the order for the termination of service recently issued to a number of teacher unionists.
Last week, Iranian teachers went on strike and protested around the country. They have been fighting for several months now for the enactment of the Pay Parity Bill. As many as 300 teachers were arrested and many of them still held in jail for protesting against the present government's attempt to repeal the still-unenacted Bill. Recently, they have set up a relief fund to help the families of the detained and dismissed teachers.
Meanwhile, the authorities have banned the teachers' weekly "Ghalam" and ordered newspapers not to publish any news of the protests. To intimidate the strikers, the Education Ministry has asked the heads of schools for the names of teachers who are absent from work during strikes.
Today's protest was called by the Co-ordinating Council of All-Iran Teachers' Trade Organisations (an umbrella body for teacher unions in various cities and regions), who has vowed to continue with its protests until all the teachers' demands are met.
Education International has made many attempts in the past few months to remind the government of Iran that teachers have a right to conduct their labour activities. EI has already written three letters to the Iranian President condemning the arrests of the leaders of teacher union and demanding that the government open a social dialogue with the teachers. It has also urged the government to respect the right of worker organisations to organise their activities and hold meetings and public protests related to their conditions of work as well as the country's economic and social policy.