Following the mass arrest of striking truck drivers in Iran, the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) expressed its concern about the treatment of protesting truckers.
In a statement published on its website, ITF said it is “extremely concerned” that the Iranian judicial officials had threatened the striking truck drivers with “heavy punishment” and even the death penalty.
The statement quotes ITF head of inland transport Noel Coard as saying: “Let it be clear that ITF unions globally voice their solidarity and stand alongside the truckers of Iran in their fight to defend workers’ rights.”
Protesting the low wages and high maintenance costs, Iranian truck drivers across the country have launched several rounds of strikes in recent months.
In videos published on social media, drivers, among other things, show the horrible condition of their tires saying they cannot afford to buy new ones due to high prices and have to risk their own and others’ safety and life.
The decision of the US President Donald Trump to withdraw from the landmark 2015 nuclear deal and to re-impose sanctions against Iran, was followed by shortages and sharp price increases. Especially, the effect on imported items, including auto parts has been considerable.
Following the new round of strikes by truck drivers in dozens of Iranian cities that started two weeks ago, the country’s top prosecutors threatened them with execution.
In an interview with the state TV on September 27, the Islamic Republic’s Prosecutor-General Mohammad Ja’far Montazeri claimed that some of the drivers intimidate and threaten their peers to join the strike. “I warn them harshly. They should be mindful of their criminal activities”, Montazeri said and added, those drivers were considered “highwaymen” and could face the death penalty.
Media reports suggest that in the meantime, around 180 truck drivers have been arrested.
Iranian truck drivers who have gained international attention, have also received support from the largest transportation workers’ union in North America.
“The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing 1.4 million transportation and supply chain workers in the United States and Canada, stands in solidarity with our Iranian brothers and sisters,” James P. Hoffa, the head of Teamsters union wrote in a letter to Abolfazl Mehrabadi, deputy director of the Iranian interest section at the Pakistani Embassy in Washington, D.C. on October 2.
“We urge the government of Iran to listen to the grievances of striking Iranian truck driver, address their just demands and recognize their internationally recognized rights to assembly, speech, freedom of association and collective bargaining,” Hoffa added.