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Iranian Workers Have Lost 90 Percent Of Their Purchasing Power

A protest by Iranian steel workers over unpaid wages on March 17, 2018. The banner mocks the regime by saying, "They don't pay us - Death to America".

Iranian workers have lost 90% of their purchasing power, says the chairman of the Supreme Center of Council's Committee (SCCC) for wages, Faramarz Tofiqi.

Referring to the calculations made by SCCC's labor group, Tofiqi told state-run Iran Labor News Agency (ILNA) on Thursday, October 4, "90% of the Iranian workers' purchasing power has been lost since six months ago."

Several weeks ago, the committee had announced that the monthly cost of living is 48 million rials (roughly $1140 based on official rate), while the minimum wage is 11,15 million rials (roughly $265). S

Some local news agencies report that the minimum wage at small workshops is much less than the official figure.

Since the beginning of the year, labor protests and strikes have significantly increased In Iran. Almost every week there are multiple reports of labor unrest, warnings by officials and arrests.

In the past two weeks, truck drivers have again gone on strike with dozens arrested and hardline officials issuing warnings of severe punishment and even threats of executions.

Meanwhile, several news outlets in Iran say that the recent significant drop of the national currency's value and skyrocketing prices have forced Iranian workers to struggle with unprecedented acrimonious problems.

Referring to the fact that the price of some goods have risen from 50% up to 100%, the state-run Iranian Students News Agency (ISNA) cited a a labor representative as saying, "The living condition for workers has become difficult."

The condition has become so difficult, ISNA reported several days ago, that even the officially recognized trade unions are demanding over fifty million rials (roughly $1200) wages per month.

Furthermore, the Union of Workers of Tehran and the Suburban Bus Company (UWTSBC) has prepared a petition signed by 2000 people, calling for another wage increase.

The petition has insisted on the necessity of holding a session at the Supreme Labor Council for setting the cost of living for a family and boosting workers' purchasing power.

Article 41 of the labor law stipulates that the minimum monthly wage should be tied to the inflation rate and a family's monthly cost of living.

Nevertheless, the labor rights activists believe that the Islamic Republic's governments have never taken cost of living into account, while calculating the workers' minimum wage.

In the meantime, a government labor official said on September 26, "There is no discussion on increasing workers' wages, but, the government is after presenting the labor force with social support."
Earlier, officials had promised to issue special cards to working class people to be able to buy essential goods at more reasonable prices, but the trade unions insist that no steps have been taken towards the fulfillment of the promise.