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EghtesadOnline: Trials and tribulations facing laborers were discussed in a meeting of unionists in the presence of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Minister Hojjatollah Abdolmaleki.

“About 96% of workers are lacking job security,” Vice President of the High Council of Islamic Labor Councils said in the meeting.

“Currently, there are about 14.5 million retired workers, of whom 11 million are insured. About seven million workers do not have insurance, of whom 3.5 are working underground,” Ali Khodaei was also quoted as saying by Fars News Agency on Saturday. 

He added that minimum wages received by workers cover up to 36% of a typical working-class household’s cost.

Deputy Secretary-General of Workers' House Hassan Sadeqi believes that the new cooperatives minister should focus on workers’ wages and said the minimum wage only covers 33% of their living costs.

“Inflation and devaluation of the national currency are two of the most important problems facing workers,” he said.

“A factory has been set up in Saveh that needs 6,000 workers. In the last six months, it could barely employ 600 workers, meaning that workers are not willing to work in the production sector and if a country is not active in the production sector, people become poor.” 

Saveh is a city in Markazi Province, located in the central part of the country.

Abolfazl Anabestani, a member of Majlis Cooperative and Employment Faction, said two million workers have lost their jobs during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“How can a worker who is a tenant live on a monthly salary of less than 90 million rials [$325.96]?”

Ali Aslani, a member of Supreme Labor Council, said last year that at current wages, workers run out of money only 10 days into the month. 

“Over the past 40 years, the gap between workers’ cost 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 [March 2020-21], they have had to grapple with major issues facing their livelihoods,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.  

Referring to housing as one of the most fundamental human needs, the official said, “Housing has become scarce for workers. Today, they cannot afford to rent a dwelling, let alone buy one. Not just workers, but many people have had to move to cheaper neighborhoods.”

Aslani stressed that workers can’t afford to buy meat, chicken or fish, while some of them even have limitations when it comes to buying cheese, butter and eggs.

“The Social Security Organization [Iran's biggest insurance company that provides coverage to wage-earners and voluntary coverage to self-employed persons] has removed 80 drugs from the list of its insurance coverage and people have to buy them at open market prices,” he added. 



Wages Insufficient for a Decent Living

According to Iran's Labor Law, workers’ wages must be set on the basis of inflation rate and living wage, i.e., the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet basic needs and have a decent life.

A living wage refers to a theoretical income level that allows an individual or family to afford adequate shelter, food and other necessities. The goal of a living wage is to allow employees to earn enough income for a satisfactory standard of living and to prevent them from falling into poverty. 

Economists say a living wage should be substantial enough to ensure that not more than 30% of it are spent on housing.

The annualized inflation rate in Iran has reached a record high.

Latest data released by the Statistical Center of Iran show that the average goods and services Consumer Price Index in the 12-month period ending Aug. 22, which marks the end of the fifth Iranian month of fiscal 2021-22, increased by 45.2% compared with the corresponding period of the year before.

The rate is an all-time high since the fiscal 2017-18 when earliest statistics on CPI in Iran featured on SCI’s database.

SCI had put the average annual inflation rate for the preceding Iranian month, which ended on July 22, at 44.2%. 

The consumer inflation for the month under review (July 23-Aug. 22) registered an increase of 43.2% compared with the similar month of the previous Iranian year. The year-on-year inflation of the month ending July 22 was 43.6%. 

The overall CPI (using the Iranian year to March 2017 as the base year) stood at 337.8 for the month to Aug. 22, indicating a 3.2% rise compared with the month before. Month-on-month consumer inflation was 3.5% for the preceding month.

SCI put average inflation for urban and rural areas at 44.5% and 48.7%, respectively. 

The CPI registered a year-on-year increase of 42.4% for urban areas and 47.7% for rural areas in the month ending Aug. 22. 

The overall CPI reached 334.1 for urban households and 358.1 for rural households, indicating a month-on-month growth of 3.2% for each.


Laborers Hojjatollah Abdolmaleki