The Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani accused Washington on, April 30, of indirectly pressuring working class people of Iran through "illegal and pitiless sanctions."
Speaking on the eve of the International Workers Day, May 1, Rouhani called upon the Iranian labor force to "work more."
According to Rouhani's official website, he maintained that one of the ways to confront the U.S. and its sanctions is an "increase in production" and "working more" on the part of Iranian workers to the extent that it provides welfare for the people and turns Iran into an "economic power."
However, Rouhani immediately admitted, “Increasing quality and quantity of production cannot be done with orders,” adding without elaboration, “Workers need to benefit from profits of production entities."
Since stringent international economic sanctions were imposed on Iran in 2011, workers have often gone without wages for months in many industrial units. The situation has worsened in the last two years, leading to numerous labor protests and strikes.
Unprofitable and mismanaged government factories and “privatized” entities cheaply sold to regime insiders have been unable or unwilling to pay workers on regular basis.
In this environment, Rouhani called on Iranian workers to work harder to boost non-oil exports, telling them they were "on the front line" against Washington and its pitiless sanctions.
Stating that, “During sanctions, the production sector has a weighty responsibility,” Rouhani reiterated, “Workers, employers, and producers have a vital part to play in reducing our dependence on foreign currency”, probably referring to oil exports.
Rouhani also said that boosting Iran's manufacturing output was vital for shoring up the value of Iran's national currency, the rial.
While praising a report presented by the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare, Mohammad Shariatmadari, the president insisted that the figures given in the report are "promising", and the workers "must be more hopeful about the future since their spirited and vibrant work combined with rendering better service creates better products."
However, the latest reports on the future of Iranian workers leave not much room for the "rosy future" Rouhani tried to present to his domestic audience.
The Supreme Labor Council of Iran, the body responsible for setting the minimum wage, announced March 19 that it proposed to raise the minimum wage from the current 11.2 million rials ($90) per month to $140 (based on free-market exchange rate) beginning March 21.
According to the parliament’s Research Center, the cost of living for an Iranian family amounts at least to 37.6 million rials (approximately $280 based per month, which labor unions consider to be an underestimation.
Furthermore, thousands of workers across Iran have not been paid for months, forcing them to strike, and stage sit-in and protest rallies.
Nevertheless, Rouhani insisted that his administration is "standing side by side with the workers" in full force.
In the meantime, Rouhani asserted that his administration is proud of a small increase in the number of labor unions during his presidency.
"We believe that the workers should seek their rights through trade unions, and the trade unions should defend the workers' interests in different sectors," Rouhani maintained.
Nevertheless, human rights organizations, as well as the few independent (officially unrecognized) trade unions in Iran, have repeatedly lambasted the government for deploying security forces to suppress workers protests across the country, placing scores of labor rights activists behind bars.
Large factories in Iran, such as auto manufacturer, Iran Khodro, and Iran National Steel Industrial Group (INSIG) do not even have an "Islamic Workers Council," a pseudo-trade union supported and practically run by the state.