Employment Rights,  Iran,  Trade Unions

The fiery speech by a female Iranian teacher protesting for better pay

Cross-posted from Potkin Azarmehr at For a democratic secular Iran

This footage was sent to me by one of the teachers taking part in the widespread strike by the Iranian teachers. They are demanding better pay and conditions.

The video shows a fiery speech made by a female teacher. See the translation below:

“Most of the martyrs in the war were from our ranks, the teachers and pupils, so we have paid our fair share for this revolution, but sadly we have received the least just rewards for our sacrifices, during these days of strike, I read things that saddened me, I want to address the Friday Prayer leaders who in their sermons speak against us teachers, they say ‘when a teacher talks about money, it means knowledge has been abandoned in exchange for wealth’! I ask these clerics who have put on the prophet’s robes, who wear the messenger of Allah’s turban on their heads, why is it that when wealth comes your way, it doesn’t mean your religion has been abandoned for wealth? Why is it that most of the factories are owned by your lot? [crowd applauds] Is religion just for me, a teacher? I am proud that I am a teacher, we are the faithful servants of real Islam, for us the first teacher is God and then his messengers, yet they say if there is talk of free lunch somewhere, the teachers will run to there, this is sad. Yes, I, a teacher, am hungry, because there are many greedy stomachs in our country. [crowd applauds] Yes, I, a teacher, have no money, because all the cash has been plundered by the children of the officials running the country. [crowd applauds] My pockets are empty, because the sons and daughters of this country have such grand villas in Canada and European countries. [crowd applauds] ..”

Gene adds: I suppose many of us would be more comfortable if the teacher was speaking in strictly secular terms. But in a country like Iran, using the hypocrisy and greed of the religious leaders against them may be the most effective tactic of all.

And you can’t doubt her bravery.

You can read more about the teachers’ protests in Iran here.

Photographs of the protests show demonstrators holding signs warning against “discrimination” and “poverty” among teachers due to their low wages.

“Our gathering is not political,” read one of the signs held by protesting teachers in Tehran.

Another sign read: “Teacher shouts, media censors.”

Some of the signs also called for the release of teachers who have been jailed due to their rights campaigns.

They include Alireza Hashemi, head of the Teachers’ Organization, who was arrested last month and transferred to Tehran’s Evin prison to serve a five-year sentence.

Hashemi was convicted on charges that included acting against Iran’s national security.

In recent months, Iranian teachers have held several public gatherings to demand better wages. Last month, nationwide protests by teachers were held in some 20 cities against low wages and inadequate living conditions.

In a May 6 meeting with a group of teachers, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei warned that Iran’s “enemies” are trying to exploit teachers’ problems.

Khamenei said that “those bearing a grudge against the Islamic establishment” intend to fabricate “seditionist, factional, and political slogans under the pretext of the teachers’ livelihoods and cause trouble to the [Islamic] establishment.”

The teacher speaking in the video apparently doesn’t give a damn what the Supreme Leader says. Good for her.