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Iran: Joint statement of bus workers, sugarecane workers & the alliance of the retired on the minimum wage in 1397 (2018)*

The procedure of determining minimum wage for the following year (1397 Solar Hijri) has begun under such grave and unprecedented circumstances that some government officials have admitted that people, especially the workers are at the end of their rope. This year, just as all the previous ones, the workers are deprived of their real representatives in the so-called negotiation on one of the most crucial issues in the lives of most Iranian working peoples. It is now common knowledge that state officials and employer’s representatives would as always make decisions about the minimum wage for their exclusive and immediate benefit.

The current year (1396) witnessed yet another cut to the bone in the workers’ purchasing power, a deeper free-fall in workplace security. Any hope for the future is scattered into pieces, and the harsh and autocratic behaviours of private and public-sector employers, with the full support of juridical, military and intelligence services, have gained a widespread and more offensive position. The most conventional workers’ objection to the inappropriate working conditions is dealt with absolute police and “national security” measures. Our unemployed population reaches the alarming number of six million, and the vast majority of them are not covered by the unemployment pensions. Despite the empty promises of creating new jobs, the unemployed population is increasing every single day. Hundreds of thousands of workers in private industries and services, as well as many public employees have overdue wages for several months. The employers, abusing the implicit capacities within the law and with the collaboration of the judiciary, refuse to pay the workers what they deserve within our legal frame, and fire, imprison and whip whoever objects the status quo to teach the others a lesson.

A variety of gender-based, religious, national, and ethnic discrimination are rampant in the workplaces. Inhumane exploitation of children in the form of child labour and retired workers with much lower wages than the minimum requirements is the norm of the day; moreover, the underpaid wage of women workers comparing with male workers holds a majority of working class under double oppression and is used to suppress the general increases in the minimum wage.

The subject of minimum wage of the workers and the general level of wages in Iran bring undeniable and explicit facts that determine the lives of the workers. Some of them are as follows:

1- According to the document published by central bank about last year (1395 Solar Hijri), the average expenses of an urban family with the average of 3.33 persons is about 3,275,000.00 Tomans (about 700 US$). For an urban family of four, this amount is about 3.900.000 Tomans per month. For evaluating the living cost of a family in the following year (1397) one must calculate the inflation of two previous years. Hence the minimum wage of a family of four would be about five million Tomans per month (about 1100 US$). Our economy, despite all shortcomings and chaos is capable of providing such wages, and the justification of the state officials about the incapacity to pay this minimum living cost is nothing but a deception.

2- Central bank and Statistical Center of Iran each year declare the official inflation rate much less than what it actually is. Yet, considering the official figures of inflation from the year 1979, the minimum wage is still much below the absolute poverty line (less than forty percent of 2.700.000 Tomans)

3- Minimum wage, as well as the general levels of wages in Iran, is one the lowest rates in the world, while the price of consumption goods and services -even public ones- competes with global prices.

Considering the facts mentioned above, the signatories of this statement assert that the minimum wage in the following year cannot be less than five million Tomans (1100 US$).

We summon all workers, teachers, nurses and other employees in hospitals and health clinics, and all toiling employees in public and private companies, as well as all the retired workers around the country to demand the minimum wage of five million Tomans and explain the necessity, possibility, and rightfulness of such a demand to their fellow workers.

* Syndicate of Workers of Tehran and Suburbs Bus Company

* Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate

* Alliance of the Retired

February 4, 2018

* Iranian year usually starts on 21st of March, hence the negotiations on minimum wage are held in February and March.

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