Iran: Independent workers’ organizations statement about minimum wage

Increasing demands for a living wage

The beginning of March saw tens of thousands of teachers throughout Iran stage “silent” protests against poverty wages. This is part of increasing demands for a living wage. Earlier in February six workers’ organisations issued a statement calling for an increase in the minimum age, which we have received and are publishing below.

We, workers, are relying on the strength of our unity and solidarity will not hesitate a moment to defend our livelihoods.

Today every decent man being is aware of the undeniable fact that millions of working people in large and small industries, teachers, nurses and retirees are living in the worst possible situation in the country’s recent 50 year history. This means that, according to the experts and government officials, currently the lives of millions of families have fallen under the poverty line and fruit, meat and dairy products have been removed from the families’ table.

Such horrendous conditions did not occur in a country ravaged by famine, this condition is imposed on workers in country which has a young, educated and skilled workforce and the highest combined oil and gas reserves in the world. Is it not shameful that teachers are forced to cover their living expenses by working as a taxi or bus driver? Do pensioners in this country deserve to feel huge pressure in their life and tremendous concern about their livelihood because of their meagre pensions? Do you know a country with millions of workers who are working 12 to 18 hours per day, yet are incapable of providing the basic needs of their families and they are still be ashamed in front of children? Do you agree that in this country thousands of people can reach to the point of selling their kidneys, prostituting themselves while we see addiction, misery, desperation and frustration of millions of its people, from teenager to elderly?

Undoubtedly, the workers and the honourable people of Iran response to all these questions is negative. Thus it is the workers and other working people who never sit silent in defence of human dignity and that despite the arrests and imprisonment, trial and prosecution, find some way to act whether by writing a petition, striking or protest. We demand an end to the present miserable conditions. But the workers in this country have not a right to life. The imposition of a minimum wage so that the old cycle of abuse , every year, with handmade puppets like government’s organizations and the violation of Article 41 of the Council of work with the most oppressive forms repeat and millions of working class families are more at risk of poverty , are increasing. The continuation of this unstoppable cycle of oppression imposed on the workers’ standard of living over the years and decades to the extent that even today, while the minimum wage of 608,000 Toman (about US$ 180), many of them even do not receive the minimum wages. According to the expert and the formal institutions of government an expenditure basket for a family of four, is more than three million Toman (about US$ 900), and thus the survival of our workers is impossible.

Therefore, on the basis of these confirmed and undeniable facts and remembering the recent protests by teachers and workers in the automotive industry and public workers, we the signatories of this statement declare our unswerving determination to have a life in accordance with the necessary standards. We urgently declare to the government and the owners of capital that if this gap between the minimum wage basket and indignity of 608,000 Toman wage is not bridged, the protests will become deeper and wider each day. We rely on the strength of our alliance will not hesitate a moment to defend their livelihoods.

21 February 2015

Signatures to the statement in alphabetical order:

1 – Iranian Workers Free Trade Union

2- Committee to Pursue the Establishment of Workers’ Organizations in Iran

3- Labor Rights Defenders Association

4. Coordinating Committee to Help form Workers’ organization

5. Sugarcane Workers’ Union of Haft Tapeh

6. Painters’ Union of Alborz Province

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March 2015