The Employment Crisis of 3.5 Million Underground Workers in Iran
By Mahmoud Hakamian
Ali Khodaei, the vice president of the Supreme Council of Islamic Labor of Iran, has spoken of the existence of 3.5 million underground workers, who are all unregistered, deprived of safety monitor and insurance rights, and receive minimum wages.
Khodaei believes that the existence of such temporary contracts is a significant issue for workers especially given the lack of clarity in regulations around them.
Temporary “wage agreements” are damaging rural employment
About a few months ago, sixty parliamentarians proposed the “removal of minimum wages for rural workers” as part of a so called “support package” for rural employment; which many labour activists consider to be a big blow to Iran’s working community.
According to Mehr news agency, this proposal is set to be applied via the addition of a new Article to Labour Code 41, which will imply that the minimum annual wages are to be re-determined by the Supreme Council of Labour whereby the workers’ rights such as those relating insurance or income will be discussed solely between the private employers and employees.
The sponsors of this plan are now attempting to legitimize their plan internationally via the ILO conventions; but the ILO conventions themselves emphasise that the minimum wages for rural workers must be enough to cover “minimum life expenses”, which is clearly not the case here.
Just like all the other plans of the regime, this plan is likely to be strongly supported by the government officials which will subsequently result in an even more severe oppression of workers.
Many labour activists have understandably strongly opposed this proposal as they expect it to intensity poverty which they liken to “pouring salt on the wounds of Iran’s working society” who are already suffering financially.