Zamaneh Media’s 19th Quarterly Labor Rights covering major labor rights issues from October through December 2021 is now available for download.
In this period, a report by the Planning and Budget Organization (PBO) assessed that Iran’s economy will be bankrupt within the next three years if sanctions are not lifted. Official estimates indicate that the budget deficit of the Iranian calendar year 1400 (March 21, 2021 to March 21, 2022) will exceed 400 trillion tomans.
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To reduce the budget deficit, Ebrahim Raisi’s cabinet is planning to cut welfare allowances, suppress wages, and enact contractionary economic policies that will endanger the health and livelihoods of employed, retired, and unemployed workers. The government intends to raise the retirement age by two years and use the average salary over the previous three years of employment as a basis for calculating pensions. Both decisions harm the workers and retirees and occurred without the relevant parliamentary procedure. Meanwhile, the bill for permanent wage equalization for retirees remains in limbo in parliament.
The government has also removed the preferred currency for the import of essential goods and medicine from the budget. The subsidized USD to Riyal exchange rate of 4200 tomans, is used to import essential goods including food and drugs. The elimination of the preferred currency will further increase food and drugs prices in Iran.
As inflation rises, so does the number of unemployed people in Iran. The Statistics Center of Iran announced that the unemployment rate at the end of the summer was 9.6%, which is higher than the previous season.10 The real unemployment rate, however, is estimated to be at least twice the official rate. In November, the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare announced on television that 14 million people were unemployed or “quasi-unemployed.”
The budget deficit in the governmental and non-governmental sectors increases daily. The non-provision of budgeted resources due to the sharp decline in oil exports has made it difficult for the public sector to pay salaries and finance development projects. The effects of this reality on workers’ livelihoods include delays in receiving wages, wage cuts, and layoffs, all of which are primary motivators behind protests in the workplace.
Over the past three months, municipal workers, especially those in Isfahan, Khuzestan, Kurdistan, Kohgiluyeh-and-Boyer-Ahmad, Gilan, and Qazvin, have rallied to protest wage arrears. Islamic Azad University staff across the country protested because of delays in receiving their salaries. Ardabil Sabalan Fabric, Rezvanshahr Shafarood Dam, Manjil Freeway, Jask oil tanker, Global Petrotech drilling in Kish, Kish municipal protested for the same reason.
The spread of poverty in recent years has led to increased suicide attempts especially among workers in Iran. A November 2021 announcement by the head of the Social Security Research Institute stated a 35% increase in suicides with rice pills in Iran.
On December 11-12, 2021, teachers went on strike to protest the reduction of the ranking budget. In at least 60 cities, they refused to attend classes for these two days, according to the NGO Coordinating Council (NGOSCC). While the teachers’ sit-in occurred, security forces violently arrested Rasoul Badaqi, the union’s inspector, at his home and summoned Amanj Amini, a member of the Kurdistan Teachers’ Union.
Iranian workers are not only facing economic policies that are adversely affecting them. The country faces a water crisis and the water policies are especially making Iranian farmers vulnerable. The lack of water supply has resulted in the layoff of half of the farmers in Yazd, Isfahan, and Chaharmahal-and-Bakhtiari provinces – a fate similar to that of the Khuzestan farmers who took to the streets in the summer of 2021.
In addition to the quarterly reports, Zamaneh Media also publishes special reports on specific labor topics as well as an annual report. For all previously published reports, please visit Zamaneh Media’s website: