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Iranian Truckers Launch Another Strike to Protest Rising Costs

Iranian truck drivers have begun another prolonged nationwide strike to protest rising costs, three months after an earlier lengthy strike drew international support and caused shortages at gas stations.

Video clips posted online by striking Iranian truck drivers and verified by VOA Persian showed trucks being idled Wednesday in at least six regions: Ahvaz, Ardabil, Borujerd, Qazvin, Shahreza and Urmia. It was the fourth consecutive day that VOA Persian has verified reports of widespread strike action by truckers in Iran.

Iranian truckers say they are protesting wage levels that they see as unfairly low, given a prolonged period of rising costs for parts and supplies such as tires.

In one of several videos sent to VOA Persian, a striking driver filmed idled trucks in the northern province of Qazvin.

Another video narrated by an Iranian trucker speaking Arabic showed trucks idled in the southwestern province of Ahvaz, home of many minority Iranian Arabs.

A third video showed idled trucks at a cargo terminal in the central Iranian city of Shahreza in Isfahan province.

The recent sharp depreciation of the Iranian rial versus the U.S. dollar has contributed to the rising prices of parts and supplies for truckers. The rial hit a record low of 190,000 to the dollar in unofficial trade Wednesday, according to Bonbast.com, a website that tracks Iran's unofficial exchange rates. It was the third straight day of record lows for the rial.

In a report published Wednesday, Iranian state news agency Mehr quoted some truck drivers as saying the price for a particular type of tire should be about $450, based on the official Iranian exchange rate of 42,000 rials to the dollar. But the drivers said dealers have been charging them as much as $1,300 for such tires.

Similar grievances about rising costs and stagnant wages prompted Iranian truckers to launch a strike May 22 in several parts of the country.

The strike, which continued for several weeks, won statements of support from the London-based International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF), which represents 19 million workers in 140 countries, and from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which represents American and Canadian transportation and supply chain workers.

The participation of gasoline tanker drivers in the strike caused shortages at Iranian gas stations in some Iranian cities.

Iran has seen frequent nationwide protests this year, involving Iranians angered by local and national officials and business leaders whom they accuse of mismanagement, corruption and oppression.

Source: Voice of America

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