Iran’s Simmering Labor Struggle

‘Sooner or later,’ an Iranian union organizer says, the country’s precarious economy ‘will blow up’—and suppressed union activists will help forge reform

CHICAGO—What was heartbreaking last year for Iran’s workers, he says, is even more terrible today. “It is ten times worse,” he says. “There is wage theft. There are factory closings and the taking away of rights.”

He says his name is Homayoun, which may or may not be true. During a visit to Chicago this past weekend, he doesn’t offer his last name and he doesn’t offer many other details about himself because that could be the end of what he does in Iran.

He is a union organizer in a country where a slim percentage of workers belong to unions and union leaders have been hung, tortured or thrown in prison and left to perish.

He is a small thin man in his ’40s, a blue-collar worker who earns about $350 a month, which is just above the government’s minimum wage and about one-third of what it takes to break out of poverty in Iran.


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