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Brussels, 4 January 2018 (ITUC OnLine) : The suppression of protests in Iran this week, with the tragic deaths of more than 20 people and the arrest of several hundred, will do nothing to resolve the underlying social and economic discontent across the country. Anger over youth unemployment, as high as 60% in some areas, spiralling inflation and the continued decline in real incomes is being fuelled by resentment at Iran's role in military conflicts abroad while the domestic economy is failing.


The modest increase in GDP after the lifting of nuclear sanctions in 2015 has not lifted living standards for millions of people in the carbon-dependent economy, and the vast social and economic influence of the republican guard and of religious bodies are major barriers to reform.


Non-payment of wages, one of the causes of the protests, is impoverishing many workers, such as at the Haft Tapeh sugar production complex, where workers have gone for 4 months without pay after a dubious privatisation of the facility. Workers involved in independent trade union activity face severe repression, including imprisonment on false charges such as the cases of Reza Shahabi, Esmail Abdi, Ebrahim Madadi and many others. Iran is ranked in Category 5 «no guarantee of rights» in the ITUC's Global Rights Index.


«Democratic reforms, including gender equality and respect for freedom of association, assembly and speech are the only basis on which real social justice can be achieved. Unravelling the military's domination of the economy and the power of fundamentalist clerics over everyday life are crucial to the prospects of shared prosperity and economic security. The people of Iran desperately need investment in jobs and decent incomes. At the international level, dialogue was vital in forestalling Iran's nuclear weapons programme, and all countries should stand ready to engage constructively in a democratic reform agenda», said ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow.


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