EghtesadOnline: With current wages, workers run out of money only 10 days into the month, says Ali Aslani, a member of Supreme Labor Council.
“Prices of goods and services have increased significantly over the past six months, particularly since June. The living wage of a three-member household has now hit 90 million rials [$312] per month in large cities, which obviously can’t be matched against workers’ wages,” he added.
A living wage refers to an income level that allows an individual or family to afford adequate shelter, food and other basic necessities. The purpose of a living wage is to help employees have a satisfactory standard of living and to prevent them from falling into poverty. Economists suggest that a living wage should be substantial enough to ensure that not more than 30% are spent on housing.
“Over the past 40 years, the gap between workers’ costs of living and income has never been more glaring than in this year. Even up to the year ending March 2019, workers used to earn enough to live through 26 days of the month without a serious struggle. But in the past two years, particularly in the current Iranian year [started March 20], they have had to wrestle with major issues facing their livelihoods,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.
Referring to housing as one of the most fundamental human needs, Aslani said, “Housing has become less available for workers. Today, they cannot afford to rent a dwelling let alone buy one. Not just workers but many people have to move to cheaper neighborhoods.
“Workers can’t afford to buy meat, chicken or fish. Some of them even have limitations when it comes to buying cheese, butter and eggs,” he said.
“The Social Security Organization [Iran's biggest insurance company that provides coverage to wage-earners and salaried workers as well as voluntary coverage to self-employed persons] has removed 80 medicines from its list of insurance coverage and people have to buy them at open markets prices.”
The official called on Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Mohammad Shariatmadari to convene a Supreme Labor Council meeting for revising the second half of the current year’s minimum wage and adjusting it to the new living wage.
This year, the Supreme Labor Council and the government agreed to raise workers’ housing allowance from 1 million rials ($3.4) to 3 million rials ($10.39) per month.
The council, which consists of representatives of the government, employers and workers, also deducted 750,000 rials ($2.6) from workers’ severance pay base and added the sum directly to their minimum wage.
The current year’s minimum wage saw a 26% increase compared with last year’s to reach 19.11 million rials ($66).
According to Iran's Labor Law, workers’ wages must be based on inflation rate and living wage, i.e., the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs.