Bus drivers are on strike in the Iranian capital, demanding a 10% pay rise

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TEHRAN, Iran – Tehran bus drivers quit their jobs Monday, crippling parts of the city in a 10% wage hike, local media reported, amid recent civil unrest in Iran amid rising food prices, growing public frustration and growing economic pressure.

Mayor Ali Reza Zakani met with striking Tehran bus company workers, Iran’s semi-official Mehr news agency reported, and sought to resolve workers’ pay concerns.

The strike disrupted the city’s two main north-south routes and disrupted traffic at many bus stations in the nearly 10 million-strong metropolis, the Shark Daily reported. The protests changed routines across Tehran as passengers resorted to subways, adding to overcrowding and confusion at some stations.

The bus drivers’ syndicate has circulated footage of the strike on social media, with drivers shouting slogans for the mayor’s resignation and demanding a 10% increase. The union also criticized the intelligence ministry for detaining one of its members last week.

Police are deploying hundreds of buses to provide alternative transport for the bus passengers affected by the strike, the semi-official ISNA news agency reported. Officers were on force throughout the day on major roads and intersections across Tehran.

Monday’s strike follows weeks of similar actions by teachers in cities across Iran. They have come out of their classes to push for better wages and working conditions – protests that have gained traction as the Iranian currency, the rial, have depreciated, and inflation has risen.

In response, security forces arrested six people on suspicion of involvement in a teachers’ rally in the southwestern city of Yasuz, the state-run IRIB news agency reported Monday. The intelligence service also detained two French nationals, identified by the French government as members of a prominent teachers’ union and a partner on vacation in Iran, on charges of “disorderly conduct”.

A new government policy to revise the food subsidy system has resulted in an increase in the main price of the dinner table, which has led to growing anger over Iran’s poor economic condition. Scattered protests have erupted in several provinces over price changes, with Iranian state-run media acknowledging about two dozen arrests.

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