A tripartite committee, the representative of the government, employers and workers, has determined the livelihood basket to be 6.895 million Tomans in Iran. This committee can be described as another step towards the extermination of Iranian workers. Reaching the final days of the year, consultations to determine the livelihood basket, followed by the determination of the minimum wage, usually increase.
The experience of the past years has shown that these actions have no acceptable result for Iranian workers, and this year, as in previous years, what was not clear was the livelihood of the workers who are among the most deprived sections of society.
On February 22, the Wage Committee for 2021 was convened in the presence of what is called within the Iranian government, government representatives, employers and workers. At the end of this meeting, the subsistence basket figure of 6.895 million Tomans was approved as an indicator of the second paragraph of Article 41 of the Labor Law of the Government of Iran.
The representative of the workers stepped back from his previous statement
Surprisingly, Faramarz Towfiqi, who was present at this meeting as a representative of the Iranian workers, agreed and confirmed this figure. Before this, he had repeatedly talked of the subsistence basket figure equaling 10 million Tomans.
The bitterness of this confirmation and agreement by the workers’ representative is that this number is referred to the “Supreme Labor Council” of the government as the basis for wage negotiations. Where, with last years’ experience, the minimum wage is less than half the agreed subsistence level. Between the parties to the wage committee, it figured out the fate of Iranian workers as we see it today in terms of the rampant inflation.
For 2020, the official livelihood basket was priced at 4.940 million tomans. But the salary with all its accessories was approved only 2.611 million tomans.
“This basket should be called a minimal or very minimal basket. The aim of the workers in agreeing on this number was to reach a consensus and agreement with the social partners,” Tawfiqi said after registering the deal with all its dire consequences.
Livelihood basket figure
While he holds the title of Chairman of the “Wage Committee of the Supreme Council of Islamic Labor Councils”, on February 11, he announced the livelihood basket as equal to 8.985 million Tomans and added: “With every meter and criterion they calculate, the result will be more than eight million Tomans”, but on February 22, he accepted the 6.895 million tomans.
Before that and on December 11, 2020, Tawfiqi had announced the subsistence basket figure of 9.800 million Tomans.
The result of these statements, and finally agreeing is a step back by such people who call themselves the representative of the workers. This can also be considered as part of the policy of pressure from the hardline government in Iran.
On February 20, Kazem Farjollahi, a labor activist, had also announced: “Monthly income is within the poverty line for a family of three based on various estimates between 8 to 10.5 million tomans. And there is a gap of 6 to 7 million Tomans between the salary and the livelihood basket.”
Government pressure on workers
Beyond the figure set for the livelihood basket, in recent months, the Rouhani government has also sought to record bargaining wages, eliminate wage levels, and ignore all the benefits of veteran workers.
Recently, the legal deputy of Rouhani had written a letter requesting the subject mentioned above. However, this was seen as a lever to push the livelihood basket issue of the workers to the margin. But determining this small amount of income showed that 2021, like previous years, will be a year of misery for the workers.
In the meantime, the employers’ community, under another pretext, in line with the Rouhani government and to reduce the minimum wage for 2021, claimed that, many households no longer have the size of a 3.3-person household to pursue the lowest possible minimum wage.
Take a look at the statistics
A look at the experience and statistics of previous years may also show us some facts. In 2018, the subsistence basket figure was set at 2.645 million Tomans and the minimum wage was finally approved at 1.114 million Tomans.
In 2019, the subsistence basket was 3.759 million Tomans. But the minimum salary was 1.527 million Tomans and in 2020, the subsistence basket was 4.940 million Tomans. But the minimum salary was set at 1.911 million tomans.
In other words, in the last three years, the ratio of the minimum wage to the announced livelihood basket shows that in 2018 the minimum wage to the subsistence basket was 42.2 percent, in 2019 equal to 40.4 percent and in 2020 it was equal to 38.7 percent. It has decreased by 1.5 to 2 percent annually.
With this calculation, with the announced figure of 6.895 million Tomans, as the livelihood basket of 2021 and the calculation of a decrease of 1.8 percent of this ratio it can be expected that the minimum salary for 2021 should be approved in the amount of 2.544 million Tomans. That is a quarter of the poverty line, and that in itself is a great disaster for the workers.
The experience of the huge difference between the set figure of the subsistence basket and the minimum wage of workers in the past years shows that despite all the peaceful efforts of labor activists and guilds, Iranian workers are being pushed below the poverty line day by day rather than on a monthly basis.