Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami has tried to down play the row over paying salaries to Iran’s armed forces personnel.
The personnel have been protesting against their salaries being overdue for the past month.
“The delay in paying the armed forces personnel’s salaries occurred because of a difference in accounting and, soon the problem will be addressed,” Hatami told Khane-ye Mellat, the parliament’s official website.
Iran’s armed forces personnel have also been angry for only receiving a salary for 23 days of work instead of for a full month.
Maintaining that a difference of accounting caused the problem, Hatami promised that the armed forces personnel’s salary will soon be paid in full.
Hours earlier on August 28, the deputy speaker of the Iranian Parliament Masoud Pezeshkian, lambasted the government for the problem, calling it unacceptable.
Furthermore, the outspoken MP for the city of Urmia, Nader Qazipour, on August 28 blamed the government for ignoring the armed forces personnel’s “reasonable demands.”
“The armed forces personnel’s monthly salary is 700,000 tomans ($211) less than the public servants’ minimum wage set by the government,” Qazipour said.
Nevertheless, Hatami dismissed the MP comments and, for his part, claimed, “According to the law, the salaries of armed forces personnel are 20 percent more than their equals in other branches of the state, for their job as well as their working situation are harder to bear, compared with others.”
Meanwhile, a member of the parliament’s Defense and National Authority Faction, Shahbaz Hassanpour Baiglari, noted, “During the Shah’s reign, armed forces personnel were paid nearly 20 percent more than other public servants.”
The heated debate goes on while scores of retired teachers and other government pensioners held a protest rally in front of the Iranian Parliament in Tehran on August 22.
The protest assembly, according to Iran’s official state news agency, IRNA, was organized by military retirees who were protesting against ignoring the implementation of a law approved by parliament that requires matching the salary of military pensioners with the income of active personnel.
“The law has been passed by the parliament but it has not yet been implemented, while what the pensioners are paid is significantly less than the amount current employees are paid,” IRNA cited one of the protesters as lamenting.
The pictures of the rally that were widely published on social media show angry protesters carrying banners with slogans like, “Poverty line, 40 million rials ($1210), Our income, 10 million rials (roughly $300),” “As far as we are under the poverty line, we will not stop demanding,” and “No to any bargain until we achieve our true rights.”
The protesters ended their two-hour rally at noon, chanting, “It’s not over; we’ll be back.”
Moreover, tens of thousands of armed forces personnel are facing housing problems and have demanded the government to address the issue.
In a TV interview five months ago, the deputy of the army’s chief commander had promised to mete out the armed forces personnel’s demands before 2018.