Monthly National Wages must be at least $480
For too long, the capitalist class and successive governments in Iran has extended the staggering level of inhumane exploitation of the working class to the point of absolute poverty while denying them of many social and fundamental rights.
Workers in Iran are facing unbearable living conditions. According to recent statistics and economic research, 40% of the population are living below the absolute poverty line.
Inflation is rampant to the point that prices are increasing on a weekly if not daily basis. Certain subsistence items have increased by 57% in less than a year.
Fraud and corruption have become so widespread and normalised amongst high-ranking officials of the government. Astonishing riches are made through theft.
Widespread COVID-19 virus has had a significant negative impact with the disappearance of many employment opportunities. The exchange rate of the rial against the dollar has collapsed, fuelling the inflationary increase.
Unemployment and inflationary prices have had a devastating effect on the destitution of people creating a gap of 360٪ between the 1st and 10th percentile points, indicating an explosive gulf between the rich and the poor.
Working people juggling two or three jobs is now normal with children abandoning education all together to work, severe malnutrition, inevitable cuts in health and medical expenses leading to the deterioration of physical and mental health of the working class and the destitute, increase in visible poverty and destitution, homelessness, drug addition, prostitution, suicide, child labour, and living on rubbish tips are just a few of the visible consequences of the previously unseen but increasing gulf between the rich and the poor in Iran.
This is a direct consequence of the unequal capitalist system and the government’s unrelenting neoliberal policies that keep wage levels down by all means possible at the service of the ruling class. They have kept the minimum wage well below the poverty line.
The government’s Supreme Labour Council (Shoraye Aliye Kaar) has led and implemented this policy through legal but unequal and one-sided channels. They have appointed and only recognised the government-sanctioned Islamic Council as workers representatives at the Supreme Labour Council.
With the backing of the private sector, the government is now pushing for a regional minimum wage level with further differential rates for singles and families to create a further fragmentation as an oppressive measure to keep a cheap and servile working class at their mercy.
The question of the “National Minimum Wage” is significant for all sections of the working class in Iran. Many jobs are paid at the minimum wage or below it. Other jobs, such as teachers, nurses, pensioners’ wages or pay is calculated as a factor of the national minimum wage. Any reduction will lead to reduced pay and benefits for all.
Large sections of the workers in Iran, in particular the service sector, supply teachers, contract workers, etc. receive significantly less than national minimum wage even less than a million toman ($40) with delay of many months of unpaid wages. In addition, many who work in special and free trade zones do not benefit from minimum wage protection and many contracted as temporary workers are not paid minimum wages for lack of enforcement. Women workers who face sex discrimination and lack of enforcement do not benefit from equal pay for the same jobs and are paid significantly less in many types of jobs such as teaching in private education establishments, nurseries, and small employers.
National minimum wage should not be set below the cost of living of an average family living in a city. The independent labour organisations last year set the monthly national minimum wage for 2020/21 at 9 million toman ($360). The rate was calculated for a typical cost of living for a family of 3.3 members. Accordingly, and taking the rampant inflation into consideration, for the next year 2021/22, the national wages should not be set less than 12.5 million toman ($500). Anything less will have a devastating impact on the livelihood of many working families who have had to meet their health, food, clothing, medicine, transport and educational needs. It must be noted that the Covid-19 pandemic, which according to official figures, has resulted in tens of thousands losing their lives and hundreds of thousands being infected with significant costs highlights the importance of the struggle for minimum wage. Furthermore, labour organisations are demanding that due to rampant inflation, the national minimum wage be reviewed and adjusted every six months based on the real cost of living for a family.
The government and private sector advisers and consultants state that wage increase is inflationary. But the reality is that inflation in Iran has no relation to wage increases and according to an economic study “wage increases does not effect production prices and as such has no impact on inflation”.
In the last 42 years, the real wages of the working class in Iran have fallen year after real while we have witnessed high levels of inflation. We cannot be passive observers of our destitution. We must unite and bravely strive continuously to achieve our aim of establishing a living wage. To achieve our comprehensive rights, the working class needs an independent national organisation. In the same way that to live a normal life one needs, air, water, food, clothing, housing, health care, education, culture and leisure.
Long live unity and solidarity of workers, teachers and pensioners.
Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers Syndicate
Workers’ Union of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company
Iranian Teachers’ Trade Association – Islamshahr
Coordinating Committee to help establish trade unions
Iranian Retirement Council
Committee for the establishment of trade unions
Retirees Union Group
National Union of Retirees