Hundreds of teachers are demonstrating across Iran to demand fair pay, adjusted pensions and the release of their detained colleagues.
The protests in dozens of cities follow two days of sit-ins at schools where teachers had would have gone on strike.
On January 31, teachers staged a protest outside the parliament building in Tehran and outside the offices of the Ministry of Education in other cities, including Shiraz, Isfahan and Ahvaz, to present their demands.
Last month, Iran’s parliament passed a law to raise teachers‘ salaries after days of nationwide protests and a strike that impacted the Islamic republic’s education system.
Teachers have held several protests in recent weeks. Security forces sometimes retaliated with heavy-handed tactics and arrested some participants.
Reports say at least five teachers were arrested during the January 31 protests, including three protesters who were detained outside parliament in the Iranian capital.
“The imprisoned teachers must be freed! some of the protesters chanted, according to amateur videos posted online, while others accused parliament of making “false promises”.
Measures passed by lawmakers on Dec. 15 ensure teachers will earn around 80% of university faculty salaries – one of the protesters’ demands.
Protesters also urged the government to move faster to a planned grading system for teachers based on experience and performance. They also want their pensions to be brought into line with the salaries of working teachers as soon as possible.
A statement released by the protesting teachers on January 31 says the situation for retired teachers as well as those who are employed has reached a critical point.
The statement also accuses parliament of acting “in the interest of the government”, while noting that the judiciary is silencing all dissenting voices instead of supporting teachers’ “legitimate demands”.
The protests come amid runaway inflation as the impact of crippling US sanctions and years of mismanagement have hit the country hard.
Many teachers have complained of struggling to make ends meet.
The Center for Human Rights in Iran, based in New York noted last month that dozens of teachers’ rights activists were jailed “on fabricated charges that reflect Iran’s criminalization of dissent, peaceful protests and assemblies, and independent trade union activism.”