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The Core Message of Intensifying Protests in Iran

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Reports from Iran indicate people from all walks of life held dozens of protests in recent days. These protests show the society’s restiveness and the regime’s deadlock in resolving Iran’s social and economic crises. On Tuesday, Iran’s Health Ministry retirees held protests in dozen Iranian cities demanding their delayed pensions, equal pensions, and bonuses. The regime refuses to adjust pensions and salaries with the rising inflation rate and the depreciating national currency.

Iranian teachers started the new academic year with series of nationwide protests last week. These protests came on the heels of ongoing protests by teachers that began on September 3. There have been many protests by the green report card teachers,” who have passed the Education Ministry’s employment test. Still, the regime has so far refused to employ them despite the shortage of teachers across Iran.

The regime has its hands in people’s pockets by not adjusting their pensions with the current economic situation and maintaining them at a low level. In April, the regime increased wages by 39%. But according to state-run media, this salary raise was an empty gest due to the rising inflation rate.

“A 39% increase in salaries in 2021 will cover only 37 percent of the people’s cost of living. A worker’s salary of 4 million Tomans covers only ten days of the month, and after that, the workers barely make ends meet until the end of the month. They have to remove many of the basic expenses of their lives,” Kar-o Kargar wrote, quoting Ali Aslani, member of the board of directors of Islamic Labor Councils.

“A 10% increase in salary means the addition of 260 thousand Tomans to the salary base, while prices have sometimes increased up to 60%,” Aslani adds.

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According to the state-run media and officials, Iran’s poverty line is estimated to be around 10 million tomans. Meanwhile, the salary base is 3.9 million tomans.

“The Statistics Center of Iran estimates the poverty line at 11 to 12 million tomans, but we have teachers who receive four to five million tomans and an average of six to seven million tomans. Except for high-ranking officials, a total of 99% of academics live below the poverty line,” Etemad daily wrote on September 28, while deliberately refusing to refer to teachers’ low incomes.

The regime’s labor law, despite its various shortcomings, underlines that “salaries should be adjusted with the inflation rate.” Article 41 of Iran’s labor law “the minimum annual wage of workers is determined based on several components: 1- Considering the inflation rate, 2- In any case, the wage determined without considering the physical characteristics and the type of work assigned should be enough to provide the minimum of a life.”

In other words, the regime could help Iranians by at least implementing its labor law. But as time passes, it becomes clearer that the clerical regime is not willing to help Iranians.

The regime’s new president, Ebrahim Raisi, and his administration have not yet proposed any economic plan to help people and combat inflation. Raisi has only made several trips and given some hollow promises, underlining that “if God wills,” the problems would be resolved!

What could be expected from a government of thieves and criminals? Raisi is wanted for his role in human rights abuses. His ministers, like Ahmad Vahidi, are internationally wanted for their terrorist activities, or like Rostam Ghasemi, are known for their corruption.

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“In many areas, Raisi also lacks the will or ability to assign tasks, and it seems that many of the problems that require clear legislation and the final assignment will remain in a state of limbo,” wrote the state-run Etemad daily in this regard on September 28.

“Many teachers in the country demand the implementation of laws and regulations related to increasing their salaries. On the other hand, the government is facing an empty treasury and a 50% budget deficit this year. How can Raisi make a balance?” Etemad adds.

In fact, Raisi’s government is handpicked by the regime’s Supreme Leader for consolidating power in the regime through terrorism and domestic oppression. The regime’s oppression is aimed to reduce protests and control Iran’s restive society. In recent days, the number of arrests during protests has increased. But would Raisi’s government and the entire regime succeed in stamping out the dissent?

“The recent arrests are apparently intended to prevent the continuation or spread of protests and to intimidate trade unions. Yet due to the Iranians’ spirit, the arrest of a person hurts the conscience of his colleagues and encourages them to continue his path,” Etemad daily wrote.

“As a result, a situation of anomaly prevails over the phenomenon of protests, the biggest loser of which will be the [regime] amid the rising pressure on different segments of the country,” Etemad daily adds.