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IRAN: The Minimum Wage for Workers for Next Persian Calendar Year Is Less Than a Third of the Poverty Line

According to the Iranian regime’s Central Bank, “the poverty line this year is at 11 million tomans” (Aftab News October 5, 2021). Taking into account the inflation rate and statistics published by state-run media, the poverty line at the end of the Persian calendar year (March 2022) has “reached 12.5 to 15 million tomans” (Hamdeli, February 27, 2022). Despite all this, the Supreme Labor Council of the regime has set the monthly baseline wage for workers at 41,797,500 Rials (ILNA News Agency, March 10, 2022). This means that even if this basic wage level is eventually afforded to workers (which in most cases will not be paid), the amount is in the most optimistic scenario less than one-third of the poverty line that has been declared by the regime itself. It can only meet the financial needs of workers for 10 days of the month. This is while, due to unbridled inflation,  poverty levels will be much worse than declared levels next Persian calendar year (March 2022 to March 2023).

According to the Statistics Center of Iran last October, “Since last year, prices for 40 essential items needed by the people have increased by 100%. Among household items, vegetable oil holds the record with a 141% increase. Pasteurized butter increased by 121%, cream by 120%, chicken by 119%, and chickpeas by 112%” (State-run Setareh Sobh, October 10, 2021). This is a trend that has continued since October and the situation will not be better next year. In addition, “the price of rice has increased by 90% since March of last year ” (Star of the morning of March 12, 2022).

This insignificant wage is determined while according to paragraphs 1 and 2 of Article 41 of the regime’s own Labor Law, the minimum wage should be set “according to the rate of inflation” and it “should be enough to meet the requirements of a household whose average members are announced by official sources.”

Meanwhile, the living conditions for working women are much worse. “Out of 4,320,000 women employed in 1398 [2019], about 15.3% of them lost their jobs a year later;” Moreover, “In an unfair distribution of jobs, the share of women in the service sector is more than men. At some points in time, these circumstances are compounded by a disregard for fundamental rights (exploitation, forced labor, involuntary labor, harsh working conditions such as long working hours, and operating of heavy equipment)” (Resalat, January 11, 2022).

The result of the widening gap between the minimum wage and the poverty line is that the living conditions for workers and toilers and the vast majority of wage earners have worsened by the day. A look at the expansion of protests by angry people in different parts of the country, especially by workers, teachers, educators, and medical staff, demonstrates this incredibly bitter and painful fact.

The severity of poverty in the country has reached a point where, in addition to selling blood and body organs, or even selling children, to support families, “some people are prepared to accept the crimes committed by others in exchange for insignificant amounts of money, thereby introducing themselves to authorities as to the criminal and enduring subsequent prison terms. … Those who, as a result of poverty, are forced to sell their freedom in exchange for money and to endure prison are labeled as “Habs Kesh” [willing to accept prison] or “Gardan Gir” [trapped]” (Hamdeli, February 23, 2022).

In contrast to the extremely painful living conditions experienced by working people and the oppressed underprivileged sectors, the embezzlement of the regime’s leaders is growing day by day. For example, government newspapers have written:

  • “In our country, if until yesterday the [most] embezzlement was 123 billion Tomans, today it has exceeded thousands of billions of Tomans. There are penthouses and villas in Tehran with a price tag of 7 to 15 million dollars, making them more expensive than real estate in Beverly Hills in the United States” (Etemad daily, December 25, 2021).
  • Regarding the price of medicine, “a drug that is produced domestically at a price of five million Rials and its distribution route is well known, is sold at a price of 250 million Rials” (Shargh newspaper, February 28, 2022). This is while the regime’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei has a monopoly on the production and distribution of medicine in Iran. This monopoly is through two large holdings, Barakat and Tipico, each of which has more than 25 large subsidiaries.
  • “15 individuals buy all the cement in the country and increase its price fivefold within a week” (Shargh newspaper, February 28, 2022).
  • “The net profit of 20 large companies (affiliated with the state) in 2020 amounted to 250 thousand billion tomans, which is equivalent to the budget deficit” (Setareh Sobh, September 25, 2020).
  • “Currently, 40% of the domestic home appliance market is supplied by foreign goods, which are mainly smuggled into the country from official sources and free zones” (Kayhan, October 11, 2021). “Smuggled household appliances are valued at $ 2.5 billion” (same source).
  • “During the entire 30 year period of privatization after the (Iran-Iraq) war, 374,000 billion tomans of people’s property (in today’s money) has been spent on bribery” (Mashregh daily, February 10, 2022).

While the regime is a member of the International Labor Organization (ILO), it violates all its standards and regulations. These standard regulations include ensuring workers’ job security in contracts between the employee and the employer, recognition of trade unions, health insurance and pensions for workers and their families, minimum wage to provide for the livelihood of a family of four, not forcing women to carry out heavy duties, and the provision of essential salaries for women with infants.

As long as this plundering dictatorship is in power in Iran, workers and laborers will be exploited with greater intensity. The only option is to overthrow the inhumane clerical regime and to establish democracy and freedom. Every factory, workshop, neighborhood, and the city must be turned into a center for revolt against this regime, and the plundered resources of the people must be taken out of the hands of Khamenei and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).

The Labor Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) urges the International Labor Organization and other relevant bodies of the United Nations and trade unions worldwide to condemn the clerical regime for its anti-labor policies and gross and systematic violations of international labor laws and standards.

Secretariat of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI)

Labor Committee

March 12, 2022

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