15th Zamaneh Media Labor Rights Newsletter, covering issues that occurred related to workers in Iran from October through December 2020 is now available for download. Zamaneh’s labor rights Newsletters which have been available on a bi-monthly basis will be published quarterly from this issue onwards.
The 15th report covers issues related to the economic condition of workers in Iran – including sanctions and covid-19 related unemployment.
With the October 2020 inflation rate at 46.4%, the prices of food and shelter have increased to a point that hunger is a major issue at the working-class household. Bread, a food item that is subsidized and that Iranians usually manage their hunger with, has also become scarce at least for parts of this reporting period.
Independent experts estimate that a working-class family in Iran now needs around 400 USD per month to survive – around 10 million tomans. However, the increase in the cost of living did not cause the Ministry of cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare to agree to the request to increase the minimum wage. The minimum wage earners are not even making half of this amount.
In a report that became available in December 2020, the Statistics Center of Iran gives a layout of price increases in twelve groups of goods and services. The percentages reflect the price increase from November 2019 compared to November 2020.
Food and beverages: 56.7%
Clothes and shoes: 42.9%
Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels: 26%
Furniture and home appliances and their usual maintenance: 55%
Entertainment and culture: 50.2%
Hotel and restaurant: 33.4%
Prices of miscellaneous goods and services: 44.2%
The value of Iranian money further plunging (exchange rate at the time of this report: 1 USD ~=25,000 tomans), and the inflation is around 44-46%, as a result, prices and costs of living are increasing but the Iranian workers are expected to work with a minimum wage that does not cover half the costs of life in Iran right now.
The toll of the economic hardships on the mental health of workers and their families is significant. Suicide among workers and their children has increased. Many working-class children cannot afford the tools needed for long-distance education programs that are being implemented post-covid-19 in Iran.
In Ramhormoz, Khuzestan province, six students committed suicide in one month. In Neishabour, three students attempted suicide. A girl also hanged herself at a childcare center at the Welfare Organization. In Bandar Abbas, two girls, aged 8 and 12, attempted suicide, one of whom died. Earlier in this reporting period, three students had committed suicide due to poverty in the provinces of West Azerbaijan, Busheher, and Kurdistan.
According to Ministry of Education officials, about 30% of students do not have access to smartphones, tablets, or the Internet, making it impossible to use the Shad online education network, which has replaced in-school
Despite all these hardships in the lives of the workers, security forces and the Iranian Judiciary are quick to suppress any workers’ attempts to seek their rights. Any attempt to ask for more benefits or even delayed wages is met with dismissals and criminal charges. In this reporting period, the judiciary even issued flogging sentences for workers who were demanding wages or were objecting to wrongful terminations.
The 15th Zamaneh Labor Rights Newsletter covers all the above in more depth including more on the numbers of arrests and dismissals. It has a section on the problems that municipality workers are facing in times of covid-19 including lack of personal protective tools, masks, gloves, sanitizers, etc.
This report comprehensively looks at the movement that has been ongoing in Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Factory for dismissal of the private owners of the factory who had connections in Iran Privatization Organization and purchased the factory at a fraction of its actual worth and have ruined production lines and workers’ lives.
This issue also looks at the struggles of Iran’s nurses in times of covid-19. Coronavirus has severely victimized the Iranian nursing community. According to official reports, nearly half of intensive care unit nurses have COVID-19. The government promised to pay the nurses’ wage arrears. However, the secretary-general of the Nurses’ House denied any news of back wages, saying that he had paid nurses overtime for only one month instead of four months and that these payments were only for 115,000 public sector nurses, not for those who work in the private sector and get paid sometimes less than $10 a day.
On May 1st every year, Zamaneh Media publishes an annual report examining major labor issues over the past year. You can also download the special labor report on teachers and the reopening of schools in Iran as well as the special report on the issues of workers in the oil and gas sector from Zamaneh Media’s labor page.