November 1, 2018

By Michael Lipin
Voice of America (VOA)

Iranian truck drivers appear to have launched the latest in a series of nationwide strikes to protest the arrests of other truckers who went on strike a month ago over rising costs.

Images posted on social media and verified by VOA Persian showed little or no traffic Thursday on roads that usually are heavily used by truck drivers. Others showed drivers standing near their idled trucks.

The images indicated strikes were under way in the capital, Tehran, and in the regions of Asaluyeh, Isfahan, Nahavand, Shahroud and Zanjan.

In one phone video filmed by a driver who identified as being in the northwestern province of Zanjan, a highway is seen in daylight, with few other vehicles present as the driver proceeds straight ahead.

Activists who posted the videos said they were protesting the arrests by Iranian authorities of truck drivers who staged an earlier prolonged strike from late September to mid-October. They also encouraged other drivers to join the new strike.

Iran’s Human Rights Activist News Agency (HRANA) has said at least 261 drivers were arrested in 19 provinces during the earlier strike and threatened with heavy sentences, including the death penalty.

Iranian truckers who joined that strike said they were protesting what they saw as unfairly low wage levels, given months of rising costs for parts and supplies such as tires.

In a report published Oct. 29, HRANA said Iran’s High Council of Transportation Coordination responded to the strike by approving a new system for calculating freight transport rates, known as the ton-kilometer (tkm) method. HRANA said the new system was among the truckers’ most pressing demands.

Iranian truckers staged their first major nationwide strike of the year from late May to mid-June, demanding better working conditions and drawing statements of support from international and North American transport workers’ unions.