On Saturday and Sunday, 29-30 January, teachers and education workers at schools across the country staged a sit-in in response to the call of the Coordinating Council of Iranian Teachers Trade Associations (CCITTA) and refused to attend to their school classes or online teaching sessions via the SHAD network. The two-day sit-in, and a rally on Monday [31 January], is a continuation of the protest campaign of Iranian education workers against the flawed ‘ranking [pay structure] bill’, and for their trade and legal demands which have not been addressed for years. The new round of the collective action of education workers began in the late autumn of 2021. In a statement posted on its Telegram channel after the nationwide rallies on 12 January, the CCITTA made clear that: “In the case that our demands are disregarded; the CCITTA will put strikes and broader rallies on its agenda and, if needed, shut down classes and declare a nationwide strike.”
According to reports and images published by the CCITTA, protest sit-ins were held on Saturday in schools in more than 250 cities, districts, and rural areas of Iran, a remarkable success for this kind of protest of the working people in the country’s education system. According to the same reports, protest sit-ins were held on Sunday in more than 300 towns, districts, and rural areas, thus covering hundreds of schools in total.
The campaign that the CCITTA has organised and carried forward with great vigilance and close attention to the critical conditions of the struggle – and crucially based on the collective force of the [country’s] education workers – has clearly defined legal and trade objectives, and its mobilising slogans are chosen in accordance with these specific objectives. In this struggle, the Iranian teachers and education workers have not forgotten their detained and imprisoned colleagues and have consistently denounced the framing of teacher union activists [on bogus charges] and their harassment, – and they continue to demand the release of imprisoned teachers and their [being permitted to] return to work. According to the pre-announced plan of the CCITTA, the campaign continues on Monday 31 January with [co-ordinated] nationwide rallies of current and retired education workers, with specific slogans, in front of education ministry buildings in cities and throughout the country – and in front of the Majlis [Iran’s parliament] building in Tehran.
The resolution of the nationwide gathering of teachers taking place on Monday 31 January, published on the Telegram channel of the CCITTA, states: “The education system in this country is going through retrogression and educational justice has been neglected more than ever… The lives and livelihoods of retired and employed education workers – like those of the majority of society and working people [in Iran] – are in crisis. For months, education workers have protested the [current] status quo in different ways, but it seems that there is no one listening at government level… The government has sent a contractionary, anti-people and anti-teacher budget to parliament, and parliament is practically operating in the interests of the government, and unfortunately the judiciary suppresses any critical and dissenting voice instead of siding with the demands of teachers for their legal rights. The activating of the [suspended] prison sentences of Mohammad Taghi Fallahi and Hossein Ramezanpour over the past few days; the arrest of Sha’ban Mohammadi, a member of the board of directors of the Marivan [branch of the] ITTA, yesterday [29 January]; and the profiling and summoning of dozens of trade unionists from Tehran to Marivan, indicate that the regime’s response to [these bona fide and legitimate] demands is an iron fist.”
The resolution goes on to state that: “Under such circumstances, the CCITTA has launched the struggle with the support of the country’s teachers striving to better the education of the society [and who are] seeking [redress of their] demands and justice, while defending the rights of teachers and students.“
At the end of the resolution, it is “emphasised” that if the demands of the protesting education workers are not addressed and met, then: “We will continue our sit-in on February 12-16 – and on Thursday 17 February, we will announce another nationwide rally.“
In this resolution, the demands of the education workers are stated as follows:
- Implementation of the pensioner pay balance act in accordance with Article 64 of the Civil Service Management Act
- Approval of the ‘ranking bill’ in full, and ratifying its budget for this year and next year
- Putting an end to the privatisation and monetisation of education and as well as the forcing of parents and students to pay for education out of their own pockets… In other words; providing free and quality education for all students in accordance with Article 30 of the Constitution
- Addressing the salaries of school service personnel [caretakers etc.] whose working conditions are the hardest of all
- Putting an end to the looting of the reserve fund for teachers
- Job security for all contracted personnel
- Putting an end to the arresting of activists and filing of prosecutions against protesting teachers, and the release of all those already detained
As anticipated, field reports [from the nationwide protests] confirm that in some cities and schools, a number of trade unionists have been arrested or otherwise summoned to law enforcement offices and intelligence agencies.
In a brief audio report of the teachers’ national sit-in published on Sunday on the Telegram channel of the CCITTA, Mr. Mohammad Habibi said: “The point is that his [Mr. Mohammadi’s] detention and the pressures on trade unionists are aimed at stopping sit-ins and rallies. But these pressures have the opposite outcome. Today, as I said, the sit-in was broader than yesterday. Apart from the news of the sit-in, we are [also contending] with the coronavirus pandemic, which is a big problem when schools are in attendance… There is no [schematic] procedural unity on the issue of school closures, and unfortunately every day we hear concerning news of the spread of coronavirus among both teachers and students.“
While expressing its support for the country’s ongoing struggles of education workers for their legitimate and union demands, the Tudeh Party of Iran calls upon all workers and working people; students and young people; parents and relatives of the schoolchildren; and the country’s national, democratic, and freedom-loving forces, to support the teachers’ righteous campaign. The success of the country’s education workers can open the way for the struggle of other working people of the nation to exercise their rights and will be a lesson and an effective step on the road to the success of all these righteous and peaceful struggles.
Tudeh Party of Iran
Sunday 30 January 2022