Strike in Tehran’s Grand Bazaar over rial devaluation

Thousands of traders in the Grand Bazaar of Tehran protest against the collapse of the local currency.

Iran rial
Iran's currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months [Reuters]

Thousands of traders in the Iranian capital’s Grand Bazaar have held a rare strike against the collapse of the rial on the foreign exchange market. 

Iran’s currency has plunged almost 50 percent in value in the past six months, with the US dollar now buying around 85,000 rials on the open market.

The rial’s decreased value is expected to result in an increase in the price of imported goods and push up the inflation rate.

“The demands of bazaar traders are legitimate. They want the situation on the foreign exchange market to be clarified once and for all,” Abdollah Esfiandari, head of the historical covered market’s administrative board, told ISNA news agency on Monday.

He said the strike in Tehran was against “the high exchange rate, foreign currency fluctuations … goods being blocked at customs, and the lack of clear criteria for duties”.

Shops had their metal shutters down throughout the market, a 45-year-old carpet trader who grew up in the area told AFP news agency. “It’s the first time in my life that I have seen this.”

Ahmad Karimi Isfahani, the general secretary of the Islamic Society of Tehran Guilds and Bazaar said that shopkeepers opened their shops after the strike to resume activities, but that did not mean that their demands have been met.

“We have repeatedly given the authorities notices and we cannot control the market situation with current the current state,” he said.

“Today, the market returned to normal and shopkeepers have opened their shops.”

“The businesses want to maintain the security of the bazaar,” he added, saying that the traders hope for a return of stability to the economy.

ISNA also reported that trade union leaders met the Minister of Industry, Mining and Trade to discuss resolving faltering business and trade.

Iran has faced mounting economic woes since the United States in May pulled out of a 2015 nuclear accord between Tehran and world powers that lifted international sanctions in exchange for a scaling back of the Islamic republic’s atomic programme.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies