Tehran, Iran (AP) — Tehran bus drivers seeking a 10% pay rise walked off work on Monday, bringing parts of the city to a standstill, local media reported, the latest civic protest in Iran amid growing public frustration over soaring food prices and mounting economic pressures.
Mayor Ali Reza Zakani met with striking Tehran bus company workers, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported, and sought to address workers’ wage concerns.
The strike disrupted the city’s two main north-south routes and paralyzed traffic at many bus stations in the sprawling metropolis of some 10 million people, the Sharq daily reported. The protest changed routines across Tehran as commuters resorted to the metro, worsening overcrowding and confusion at some stations.
The bus drivers’ union posted footage of the strike on social media, showing drivers chanting for the mayor’s resignation and demanding a 10% raise. The union also criticized the intelligence ministry for detaining one of its members last week.
Police were deploying hundreds of buses to provide alternative transport for bus passengers affected by the strike, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. Officers were out in force on major thoroughfares and intersections in Tehran throughout the day.
Monday’s strike follows weeks of similar actions by teachers in cities across Iran. They walked out of their classrooms to demand better wages and working conditions – protests that have grown as Iran’s currency, the rial, loses value and inflation rises.
In response, security forces arrested six people in connection with teachers’ rallies in the southwestern town of Yasuj, state news agency IRIB reported on Monday. The Intelligence Ministry also arrested two French citizens, identified by the French government as a prominent teacher union official and her partner vacationing in Iran, for allegedly causing “chaos”.
Anger over deteriorating economic conditions in Iran has intensified amid staple food price hikes following a new government policy to change the food subsidy system. Scattered protests erupted over price changes in several provinces, with Iranian state media acknowledging nearly two dozen arrests.