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Why Iran’s workers are constantly protesting to delayed payments

Workers in Iran protesting to unpaid wages
Workers in Iran protesting to unpaid wages

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, August 27, 2019–Under the tyrannical rule of the mullahs, Iran’s workers are not only suffering from low wages, lack of job security and social and health insurance, but they’re also deprived of the most basic rights that every worker in the world should enjoy.

One of the most endemic problems of Iran’s labor force is unpaid wages. Iran’s workers are often deprived from receiving the meager salaries their employers have committed to pay them. This is a problem that has become exacerbated in the past two years, and Iranian workers often go months and even more than a year without receiving their salaries.

The managers of government-run companies, especially companies that have been “privatized,” which means handed over to private owners who are closely tied to Iranian regime officials, regularly refrain from paying the wages of Iranian workers under different pretexts.

The salaries of Iranian workers in government organizations and municipalities are being delayed while regime officials are receiving their stellar wages in a timely fashion. Also, while Iranian officials and their associates in companies and factories regularly state economic woes and sanctions as an excuse to delay paying the salaries of workers, the regime continues to squander the wealth of the country in its proxy wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

There is presently a long list of Iranian factories, companies and government offices whose workers have not received their salaries for months. In some cases, delays in payments have exceeded 12 months.

Railroad workers in Ahvaz, municipality workers in Yazd, Borujerd, Tehran, and Delfan, workers of Hepco in Arak, sugarcane workers in Khuzestan, and many more labor communities are constantly protesting to not having received their pay.

Delays in payments are happening against the backdrop of rising prices, increased inflation and the declining value of the rial, Iran’s national currency.

Even when they do receive their monthly salaries on time, Iranian workers are hard pressed to provide the most basic needs for their families. Even according to government officials, the salaries of Iranian workers are well below the poverty line, and reach what regime authorities label the “line of death.” Those who don’t receive their pay on time are faring even worse.

According to stats declared by the state-run Mehr news agency, there are more than 130,000 workers in Iran who are faced with delayed payments.

“According to the latest statistics, there are 1,262 firms that are faced with problems in the country. In respect with delayed payments, there are 1,093 firms that have paid their workforce with considerable delays or still haven’t paid them after several months. In 31 provinces, there are firms that are faced with delayed payments. Overall, 130,413 workers across the country have not received their payment for more than a month. A breakdown by province shows that Tehran tops the list with 17,271 workers from 30 economic firms who haven’t received their salaries,” Mehr wrote in August.

Previously, Abdollah Rezaiian, member of the Majlis (parliament), warned that there are many workers in the production and industry sector who have delayed payments that range between three to nine months, or they haven’t received their payments at all.

Receiving their salaries on time is the most basic right of all Iranian workers. The Iranian regime gives free hand to its agents and affiliates running Iran’s companies to do as they will and pay their workers whenever they want. Without any oversight and accountability, Iran’s workers are left to suffer without their payments and no option to reclaim their most basic rights.

Workers of municipalities are one of the worst hit labor communities in Iran. They work under very hard conditions, and the regime-affiliated contractors who hire them delay their payments under different excuses.

Other segments with poor payment conditions are the so-called privatized companies, firms that have been liquidated and handed over to regime affiliates at very low prices.

One of these companies is the Haft Tapeh sugar mill, located in Khuzestan province. The government of Hassan Rouhani handed over the company to one of its affiliates named Omid Assadbeigi. This person has increased pressure on the workers of this company in different ways, including delaying the payment of their salaries. Deteriorating work conditions triggered protests and strikes by the workers of the factory. But the regime’s response to the demands of the workers was to crack down on their protests, arrest, imprison and torture them, and to give them heavy prison and flogging sentences.

Another reason for delays in the payments of Iranian workers at smaller workshops and factories is the bankruptcy of these firms. The vice president of the Iranian regime’s Planning and Budget Organization said in May that more than 2,000 production units across the country have shut down, are working in low capacity, or have come to a halt.

Excessive inflation, rise in prices of basic materials for factories and incessant imports and smuggling of products by government officials have caused the owners of smaller production workshops to become unable to keep up production at their facilities and pay their workers.

This situation is directly caused by the regime’s lack of initiative and efforts to support local production. Regime authorities are taking advantage of their power and influence to profit over the import and smuggling of goods in the country, and their destructive policies are coming at the expense of the underprivileged workers of Iran and smaller production workshops.

The past 40 years have proven that the mullahs’ regime has no respect for the rights of Iranian workers. In current conditions, the only way Iran’s workers can reclaim their rights is to come to the streets and protests. Labor protests have become a common sight in every city of Iran on a daily basis. These protests have seen an increasing trend in the past two years, and their nature is gradually transitioning from economic demands to direct criticism of regime officials for their corruption and repression of Iran's labor force.

While regime officials continue to show a lack of will to respond to the demands of Iran’s labor force, Iran’s workers have proven that they have the will to continue to fight for their rights. And they’re becoming increasingly convinced that things will only change when the mullahs’ regime is overthrown and replaced with a democratic government that cares for the people of Iran.

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