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Workers from several industries in Iran, including the oil sector, continue to strike in protest of inadequate wage increases and deteriorating living conditions amid spiraling inflation and a widening gap between household income and expenses.
Strikes have been ongoing in several cities for months, with workers from petrochemical, mining, and steel industries demonstrating as well.
In the oil industry, workers have called for a 79 percent wage increase for contract workers in both industrial and nonindustrial factories, almost three times the amount offered by the government.
The workers have rejected the proposal, made by Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi's government, which also pledged to curb inflation this year.
The Supreme Labor Council resolved to raise the minimum wage for workers in the Iranian New Year, which commenced on March 21, by only 27 percent compared with the previous year while the inflation rate in Iran has been running at around 40 percent for the past two years.
Adding to the economic pressure on Iranian households, the Iranian Labor News Agency reported a 40 percent increase in the prices of goods and services in the first month of the new year.
Other unions and groups, such as teachers and retirees, have also launched mass protests and strikes in recent weeks. The workers are demanding better working conditions, payment of overdue debts, and higher wage increases, reflecting the harsh economic conditions faced by many Iranians.
Unrest has rattled Iran since last summer in response to declining living standards, wage arrears, and a lack of welfare support. Labor law in Iran does not recognize the right of workers to form independent unions.
Adding to the dissent, the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in police custody for allegedly wearing a head scarf improperly breathed new life into the demonstrations, which officials across the country have tried to quell with harsh measures.
The activist HRANA news agency says that more than 500 people have been killed during the unrest, including 71 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.
Thousands have been arrested in the clampdown, with the judiciary handing down harsh sentences -- including the death penalty -- to protesters.
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