Nowadays, Iranian citizens are getting ready to celebrate Nowruz, the new year in the Persian calendar. However, given its mismanagement and failures, the government has imposed additional economic pressure on Iranian society. On the other hand, Iranians suffer from other dilemmas like the health crisis and air pollution.
For instance, health professionals frequently express their concerns about a new wave of the coronavirus outbreak and the circulation of mutated strains of the virus. However, state-backed employers deprived low-income classes, particularly workers, of their meager salaries. These impoverished citizens have to participate in contaminated workplaces with the Covid-19 amidst the health crisis.
They struggle hard for meager salaries, which do not cover their essential needs regarding the 100-million-rial [$400] poverty line. Instead, state-backed employers refrain from paying workers low wages. Such behaviors have severely prompted workers’ outrage.
In this context, no day goes by without workers’ protests across the country. On February 18, workers of Shahryar municipality, a suburb of Tehran, held a rally in front of the City Council, protesting officials’ failure to pay their salaries for two months.
“Today, we have gathered here to demand an increase in our salaries. [Officials] did not pay our salaries for two months,” said a worker. “My monthly salary is 24.5 million rials [$98], and my experience bonus is 1.5 million rials [$6], which is 26 million rials [$104] totally. Does the Mayor cover his family’s costs with $104?” he added.
“Our wages are too low. Official forces, who work under the municipality’s supervision, monthly receive more than 80 million rials [$320]. However, the Mayor has made a deal with contract companies to pay 25 million rials [$100] to workers per month. Official workers receive between 70 to 80 million rials [$280-320] each month, but they give 25 million rials to us,” said another protester.
Workers’ conditions are identical across the country. They are unable to make ends meet. In such circumstances, workers see no way to obtain their fundamental rights except flooding onto the streets and voicing their protests publicly. In this respect, workers’ protests have dramatically increased in recent months.
“For a working family of 3.3, the product basket’s cost is 100 million rials [$400] while low-income workers monthly receive 30 million rials [$120] in the best scenario. This is while that the workers’ purchasing power has sharply dwindled, and their food baskets became empty due to rampant inflation,” wrote Kar & Kargar [Labor & Laborer] on February 9.
However, the question is, why does the government not resolve the people’s dilemmas? The government’s refusal to resolve current obstacles highlights the truth. “No one of society’s classes has an actual representative inside the governing structure. In Iran, workers and other impoverished strata do not even have a real syndicate or union. They do not have media, and their voices are not heard anywhere,” Mostaghel daily wrote on February 19.
“Indifference toward demands and hardship of underprivileged and slum-dwellers has created deep crises. [Gas protests] in November 2019 was a specific instance,” the daily added.