IRAN: Workers Protest Outside Health Ministry
By Staff Writer
Dozens of workers’ representatives from across Iran gathered in front of regime’s Health Ministry headquarters in Tehran to protest against the ministry’s aggression on the assets belonging to the Social Security Organization (SSO).
To commemorate the Social Security Day, the gathering was held on July 18, 2018, at a time when it’s reported that withdrawals from the workers fund has left it on the verge of bankruptcy.
According to clause 13 of this year’s budget, the funds allocated to SSO’s healthcare program will be kept by the country’s treasury.
Included in the country’s 2018 budget by Hassan Rouhani’s government, the clause was approved by regime’s parliament and the Guardian Council last year, despite being widely criticized by labor formations.
According to clause 13, the total funds allocated to healthcare have to be placed in a Social Security Healthcare Insurance Account held by the treasury, so the SSO can spend them according to the social security law.
While the government and a number of MPs claim, according to state-run IRNA news agency, that the measure has been aimed at promoting SSO’s financial transparency, workers and a number of experts have expressed concerns over the consequences of the legislation.
Labor activists believe that workers’ nine percent social healthcare entitlement is to be allocated to the so-called Healthcare Insurance, a plan that’s been described by some state-run media as a failure.
Secretary of East Tehran state-affiliated Worker House ‘Fathollah Bayat’ has meanwhile criticized the Healthcare Reform Plan, saying that the plan has seriously hurt the social security while disrespecting workers, retirees and all premium payers’ rights, reports state-run ILNA news agency on July 16, 2018.
Bayat called on Health Minister ‘Hassan Ghazizade Hashemi’ to let go of the Social Security, saying “ill-wishers seek to walk off with the organization’s assets.”
Also in this regard, secretary of the so-called Islamic Labor Councils Association ‘Hossein Habibi’ has recently announced that “the conditions has worsened so much that at Islamic Republic’s fourth decade the Health Ministry has been authorized by the parliament to lift Social Security assets.”
Habibi pointed to Health Minister as one of the main persons responsible for destroying workers’ healthcare benefits, saying “the Health Minister has removed 70 to 120 drugs widely used by the society’s vulnerable working class from the social insurance coverage.”
Also taking part in the gathering was Akbar Shokat, secretary of Qom Worker House. Pointing out that workers and retirees are experiencing the worst situation possible, Shokat added “they not only see their healthcare assets gone, but have to endure country’s 50-60 percent inflation as well.”
“The government not only refuses to pay off its 140 thousand billion toman debt to the SSO, but has also integrated the Healthcare Reform Plan with the organization, so the plan could continue to remain in place,” adds Shokat.
Shokat then pointed out that MPs are reviewing a motion according to which the government will be exempt from paying any late fees for its debt to the SSO, adding “even the 140-thousand-billion-toman principal is to be reduced to one third.”
Ali Khodaee, member of High Council of Labor, meanwhile says that the parliament is working on a motion which is aimed at eliminating Social Security Law’s article 41, according to which “if required by type of job, the organization is authorized to set the pay-ratio and claim the associated premium accordingly, provided it’s suggested by board of directors and approved by the High Council.”
“With the article no longer in place, the premium the SSO receives from contractors will also be gone,” says Khodaee, according to State-run ILNA news agency.
“The motion has been brought to the parliament while claiming to be in line with leader’s call for promoting Iranian made products,” added the member of High Council of Labor.