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Lecture | L-PEG Lunch Research Seminar

Lagging behind: Labour Precarization, Short-Term Contracts and a weak Khāneh-ye Kārgar for Iranian workers

Friday 17 April 2020
Matthias de Vrieshof
Matthias de Vrieshof 4
2311 BZ Leiden


Please register in advance at l-peg@hum.leidenuniv.nl to receive a copy of the paper & lunch.


What was the impact of precarization policies on labour and workers’ agency in post-revolutionary Iran? How did Iranian workers organize under the Islamic Republic?

This paper will engage with these questions, through the analysis of the labour transformations occurred during the reformist period, under Mohammad Khatami’s presidency (1997-2005). Relying on the analysis of primary sources in Persian (such as newspapers and official documents, as well as interviews conducted by the author in Iran), this presentation will trace back the effects of short- term contracts on workers’ political divisions and precariousness. It will also examine the Khaneh-ye Kargar’s (the only official union in Iran) role on filtering laborers’ requests of political participation. The argument developed throughout the paper is threefold: 1) The IRI, even under the reformist government, deliberately supported labour precarization processes; 2) Through the recognition of mutual vulnerability in these processes, precarious workers managed to build collective (even though short-term) political projects; 3) Key actors, such as the official workers’ union, acted ambiguously: on the one hand they challenged current practices of exploitation and discrimination, but de facto were complicit in policies of appropriation of workers’ will and precarization of labour.


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