Daneshjoonews – Ahmadinejad’s government has attempted to come up with many solutions to end strikes in the Tehran bazaar. However, on July 14, 2010, the strikes became more widespread than previous days. Despite this, government news agencies claim that the stores were opened.
According to Kaleme News, a group of merchants joined the strikes that began last week by jewellery and clothing merchants. Witnesses say the merchants are present at their stores but their lights are off and there are no signs of buying or selling. The government blamed the lack of trade in the bazaar on the hot weather and announced that the tax and commerce departments reached an agreement with the merchants. The government backed away from a planned 70% tax hike and lowered it to 15%, in the hopes that by Tuesday the strikes would end.
The merchant trade union has asked the merchants to now pay their taxes and end their strike. According to one of the merchants, the traders have absolutely no faith in this government’s settlement agreement. He said that last year, they paid taxes on their trades and received administrative forms as receipts. Then in April of this year, there was an announcement from the government tax agency that last year’s forms were no longer accepted and the merchants would have to pay another 5% in taxes. Even though the Tehran bazaar strike has spread in the past two days, the main reason for this is not clear yet. It seems like the bazaar trades are not playing a role in the situation and the merchants are shutting down without paying attention to the trade union.
The government site of Raja News, in their report on the situation, admitted that the strikes are continuing. An analysis was conducted that demonstrated that the strike is economical with some political roots. Raja News has not given a clear reason why no one has been able to stop the most widespread bazaar strike since the 1979 revolution. The bazaar strike has not yet had a huge impact on the entire city of Tehran, due to the fact that the sections on strike are not the ones that affect people’s everyday lives. However, a longer strike could have a huge affect on all commerce in Tehran.
According to reports, the Tehran bazaar is filled with an unprecedented number of security forces who are not allowing people to gather anywhere. Store owners are also not allowed to stand outside their stores. It is reported that even though the government has agreed to reduce the trade tax to 15%, the merchants have refused to pay the new amount due to economic recession and massive unemployment. Since the government has already backed down and lowered taxes by 55%, the merchants seem to have confidence in putting Ahmadinejad’s government under more pressure.
Ahmadinejad, who usually jumps on the opportunity to comment on every situation, has made no mention of the strikes in his talks in the past eight days. This shows the government’s weakness when it comes to economic issues and its fear of angering the merchant community.