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Metalworkers Tell Rouhani Wage Earners Cannot Afford Necessities Amid Pandemic

A child laborer in the streets of Tehran amid coronavirus pandemic.
A child laborer in the streets of Tehran amid coronavirus pandemic. Undated

A group of metalworkers in Iran have written to President Hassan Rouhani saying they cannot afford items to protect themselves against the coronavirus “because thanks to you and governments before you we have become poorer everyday and our purchasing power has diminished”.

The letter published by the labor news agency ILNA on April 12 says a multitude of workers, including day laborers are not covered by the government unemployment compensation scheme and the government “cannot urge them to stay home and ignore poverty”.

The workers have also complained in their letter that many protective items have become so expensive that ordinary people cannot afford them. As an example they cite latex gloves that have almost tripled in price since the coronavirus outbreak.

The workers have urged the president to provide a three-month long unemployment coverage to all, take measure for unpaid wages to be released, make water and electricity free of charge and distribute health items such as masks, gloves, alcohol and disinfectants.

President Rouhani’s spokesman warned April 11 that up to 7.3 million workers might lose their jobs amid the epidemic, but he did not mention what if any measures are on the government’s agenda.

A week ago, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei authorized the withdrawal of one billion euros from the country’s National Development Fund but it is unclear how and where the hard currency will be spent.