At the end of every Persian year, one of the main debates in Iran’s social and economic scene is the wage of the country’s workers. Although it was announced that the workers would receive loans, these barely cover even their most basic necessities. As a result, the workers have resumed their protests to fight for better pay.
In regard to the loans, the Iranian regime has held several meetings that have ended with no clear results. The amount they have allocated for the workers is considerably lower than the country’s inflation rate, and worse still is that the regime has shown the amount of inflation to be lower than it is in reality so that they are able to continue depleting the pockets of the workers for its malign ambitions, like terrorism and warmongering.
The workers have said that they are worried about the wages increase of 2022 because of its disproportionality with a 60 percent increase in inflation in the food sector, and a 50 to 200 percent increase in rent in working-class areas. This goes along with the lack of exchange rate control in 2021 and the regime’s contractionary policies to increase real taxes on workers and wage earners.
The cruel exploitation of these workers has been so severe that even the regime’s state-run media has been forced to admit it. On February 28, the state-run Hamdeli daily referred to the statistics of the International Labour Organization (ILO) and wrote, “Iran ranks 160th in the world with a minimum wage of $75 a month, lower than Libya, Iraq, Bangladesh, and some neighboring countries, while inflation announced by the central bank is higher than these countries and is in double digits.”
Of course, this estimate is related to the workers who receive the officially approved salary by the official employment order. However, the fact is that out of the country’s working population, nearly 14 million workers, less than three percent are officially employed.
The remaining 97% are daily workers who have temporary contracts, and employers pay them arbitrarily. These companies, mostly affiliated with the regime’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and the regime’s supreme leader’s office, often refuse to pay the workers’ pensions, health insurance premiums, accident insurance, children’s rights, and other rights related to the official labor force, and even new year’s bonuses are not paid.
The contracts are so arranged that they will expire on the first day of the last month of the year according to the Persian calendar, and then workers can only re-sign the contract again on April 4 of the following year.
The Hamdeli daily stated, “Private sector workers in Iran earn less than $50. For example, there are people who earn 9 million rials by working 12 hours a day.”
Another number that the regime often manipulates every year is the cost of basic goods for Iranian families. On February 27, the state-run website Radar-e Egthesad wrote that while the poverty line in Iran has exceeded 120 million rials, the Supreme Council of Labor has set the livelihood basket’s rate at 89,790 million rials.
The website added, “In fact, the method used to calculate workers’ wages is unrealistic and the indicators used have nothing to do with the living costs of workers and employees.”
On March 3, Ali Bigdeli, one of the regime’s experts, warned the regime of the consequences of such policies, saying, “The people’s protests against the regime will reach its peak in 2022.”