A second round of strikes by Iranian truckers started on Monday, July 23. State-run media revealed that the second strike appears to be due to the fact that the regime has not addressed the issues raised initially by the truckers. The first strike started on May 22 and lasted for 11 days, kicked off by truck drivers in seven provinces refusing to carry any type of cargo. Eventually, that first strike spread to over 274 cities, becoming a nationwide protest.
After the first protest, the Iranian regime was forced to make concessions to the truck drivers. Despite their efforts to force the drivers back to work using various repressive measures, the drivers appeared to be successful initially.
Some of the concessions from the regime included a 20% increase in transportation fee, lowering transport companies’ commission rates, and ending the use of the SEPAHTAN tracking system in trucks.
The realities of driving truck and carrying cargo in Iran are often based around low wages, sharp daily increases of pricing, and high insurance premiums.
A hard and dangerous work
High commissions are obtained by transport companies linked to Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), plus shipment companies also ask for commissions from the truck drivers. The result is that many drivers make little to nothing for doing this hard and dangerous work.
A state-run news agency revealed that another aspect of state extortion comes in the form of fuel prices. “Following the country’s subsidy reform plan, which led to increased fuel prices, truck drivers’ fuel quota both dropped in volume and experienced a price rise of up to 900% as well. Nonetheless, the government didn’t take any steps to reimburse the additional costs despite repeatedly promising to do so,” said the article.
There are multiple aspects of the Iranian government involved in the trucking and shipment industry. Their influence has left the drivers struggling to survive. The increasing inflation related to the rial (Iranian currency) means that drivers are making less for doing the same or more work. While freight rates remained unchanged, the costs of doing business, from fuel to spare parts, are steadily increasing. The situation is even worse if the driver does not own their trucks. Many drivers who own their trucks are selling, as the costs of maintaining the trucks overwhelm their income.
Drivers are charged even more than market rat
Another area where the regime’s government is impacting the trucking industry is in their call for new tires in order for a truck to pass its technical inspection. Drivers are charged much hirer rates for these tires, even if they qualify for tires at subsidized prices. Those tires that are bought at subsidized prices are then sold at market rate, giving the sellers a healthy profit. In some cases, drivers are charged even more than market rate, because distributors stockpile tires to drive the prices upwards.
With all these issues, it is no surprise that drivers are again on strike. The previous concessions by the regime have not been followed through on and it seems unlikely that the regime will be forced to change it stance with the truck drivers without the pressure of a strike.