Zamaneh Media’s 27th Labor Rights Report, including an analysis of the economic conditions that Iranian workers are facing, unemployment, workers’ strikes and protests spanning from October to December 2023 is available for download:
The economic crisis, inflation, escalating prices, and various challenges in recent years have compelled many to seek multiple jobs for sufficient income.
In this period, the Iranian officially reported a decrease in the monthly inflation of October and November 2023. However, another number provided by Iran’s Statistics Center revealed a point-to-point inflation of 39.2 percent for November. Food, healthcare, transportation, clothing, and goods prices increased to hikes exceeding 40 percent. In terms of housing, the most significant expense for workers’ households in Iran, the inflation rate was reported at 39.5 percent by Iran’s Statistics Center. Conversely, the central bank highlighted a substantial 73 percent increase in Tehran’s housing price index for October. Rental prices, on average, surged over 60 percent from November 2022 to November 2023. This upswing in housing and rental costs has disproportionately affected certain groups of workers and in particular, the precarious workers, forcing individuals to find shelter in unconventional ways, such as sleeping in cars, cardboard boxes, on rooftops, or squeezing multiple families into single residential units.
The economic crisis, including ongoing recession and heightening inflation, has led to a significant increase in unemployment and the number of laid-off workers. Those with jobs also take double shifts or find double jobs to make ends meet. This economic strain has forced a substantial portion of the unemployed, job seekers, and retirees into informal employment, often without contracts or insurance.
In these economic conditions, the Labor Minister obstructed attempts to raise the national minimum wage. This is contrary to assurances made by the “labor representatives” of the Supreme Labor Council of Iran which is in charge of making changes to the national minimum wage in conjunction with the Labor Ministry. This has intensified the financial challenges faced by workers who already contend with frequent wage delays. It has also increased the number of informal and precarious workers.
Accurate statistics regarding informal employment and individuals holding second jobs are not readily accessible. However, in October 2023, the Tasnim news agency quoted Hamid Haji Esmaili, a member of the Assembly of Labor Representatives, estimating that nearly 60 percent of Iranian workers have second or third jobs.
Likewise, in December, Hadi Abawi, the secretary of the Supreme Center of Labor Unions, observed that the average wage falls short of meeting workers’ living needs, highlighting that approximately 70 percent of workers have a second job. Common informal and uninsured secondary employment roles include peddling, guarding construction sites, sales, and transporting goods and passengers.
Workers’ protests continue in Iran. In this period, Iranian pensioners took to the streets to organize protests. Despite increased security pressure, official and contract workers in the oil and petrochemical sectors continued their protests. Additionally, nurses and medical staff actively participated in strikes and rallies across various cities, voicing their dissent against the government’s failure to fulfill its commitment to implement fair health service tariffs.
Iron smelters staged a significant labor strike, bringing work to a halt for at least two days. A common grievance in industrial workers’ protests is low and frequently delayed wages. Another key demand is the establishment of a job classification system.
Many municipal workers, often hired through low-paying contractors, reported wage delays that stretch beyond a year in certain cities. Government officials attribute these delays to diminished municipal revenues. Employees in urban and rural water and sewage companies, rural telecommunications, and both rail and road transport encounter similar challenges, including delayed wages and inadequate compensation.
Suppression of workers continues with security forces often arresting key labor rights activists and unionists. Imprisoned labor and union activists persistently endure oppressive conditions, facing arrests and lengthy incarcerations.
The information provided in this report is not exhaustive, as it addresses specific labor-related events and topics. In the winter of 2022-23, we released our fifth annual Zamaneh newsletter, and our most recent special report shed light on the challenges faced by Baluch fuel carriers. To access previously published reports about workers’ rights, visit Zamaneh’s Labor Rights page: