According to Shahin Gobadi, a spokesman of the Iranian opposition movement the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK), Iranian workers and laborers are becoming more restive and are totally disillusioned about the government of Hassan Rouhani. That is reflected in the marked surge of anti-government protests, strikes, and sit-ins in recent months, Gobadi said.
The MEK is the principal Iranian resistance organization and the main constituent of the opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. Gobadi spoke in an on-line briefing that was held on the occasion on May 1, International Workers’ Day.
He explained that the regime’s emphasis on political repression, exportation of Islamic fundamentalism, and its drive to acquire nuclear weapons are the root causes of the precarious state of its economy, its huge unemployment figures, and the deprivation of Iranian workers of their most rudimentary rights. According to Gobadi, pervasive corruption by the regime’s top brass is also a key factor on the perilous Iranian economy, reflecting on worsening conditions of Iranian workers.
He concluded by pointing out that reform within the Iranian economy is deeply intertwined with political reform. Gobadi described the prospect of such reform under current conditions as illusory and he stressed that regime change by the Iranian people and the organized resistance is the ultimate solution to Iran’s woes, including its economy.
Below are the text of remarks by Shahin Gobadi on the occasion of May 1
On the occasion of International Workers’ Day, we would like to assess the situation of Iranian workers, and laborers
This is especially appropriate in light of the fact that it is almost two years since Hassan Rouhani was chosen as the mullahs’ president. Rouhani had promised to make improving the economic condition of Iranian people the focus of his government.
A quick review shows that not only has there not been any improvement of the situation for Iranian workers and laborers, but to the contrary it has deteriorated rapidly and severely.
Actually, in the 70 years since the drought after the Second World War, Iran’s workers have never been so poor and devastated with no job security or monthly salaries.
Regime officials have acknowledged that “90% of the workers’ community in the country live below the poverty line and the other 10% is not much above the line.” According to state statistics, during the years 2003 to 2012, the number of people under the poverty-line has increased 150% despite the fact that during this period Iran’s oil revenues have multiplied several-fold.
Since 2005, workers’ purchasing power has decreased by 73%.
In the meantime, unemployment has become rampant. According to state statistics, the work force is 64 million and the work force is 41 million with 1.2 million additional workers entering the market annually. However, according to official statistics, the number of those employed stands at 21 million. In other words, over half of the active population is jobless. Ali Larijani, the Speaker of Majlis said on April 25 that 42% of university graduates are unemployed.
The closing down of the factories and production units continues and adds to the large number of unemployed. According to the head of the Chamber of Industry, Mines, and Trade, only “40% of the country’s industrial and production units are working.”
In the mullahs’ regime, workers lack the least legal protection and employers who are mostly regime officials and revolutionary guards have no restrictions in firing them from their jobs or violating their rights. “According to the Ministry of Labor statistics, only 7% of the workers are employed with ‘official contracts’ and 93% are working based on temporary contracts.”
Hassan Rouhani actively pursues the policy of workers’ victimization. He proposed a bill to the parliament to “remove obstacles of production”. Ratified last week by the Council of Guardians, the bill actually removes the obstacles of firing workers and has furthered the ground for imposing temporary contracts.
What accounts for this situation?
All the wealth, capital and fortune of the Iranian people have been spent on suppression, export of fundamentalism and terrorism, and the drive to acquire nuclear weapons.
In the Iranian year starting March 2015, despite all economic problems, the budget for suppressive forces increased 53 percent. Hassan Rouhani boasted in April 25 that when it came to suppressive forces he supplied 100 percent of their budget.
The clerical regime spends astronomical figures to export of terrorism and fundamentalism. The UN envoy to Syria, recently told a private gathering in Washington that Iran has been channeling as much as $35 billion a year into Syria.
According to some estimates the regime has spent up to $300 billion for its nuclear program over the years.
Rampant and pervasive corruption:
Corruption has become pervasive within the clerical regime. News of corruption involving massive and astronomical figures has become routine. And all these cases are all related to the regime and to its top brass.
The Minister of Interior made public reference to a number of these cases on April 26. For instance, he said, more than 3000 companies have been registered with one address and more than 4000 companies have been registered with one code. He revealed that an individual who was deceased three years ago had about $55 million dollars circulating in his account since his death and about $22 million has circulated in the account of his son who is six years old. These are simply tip of the iceberg.
The scope of smugglings into Iran exceeds 25 billion dollars annually and it is a known fact in Iran that the main party involved is the Revolutionary Guards and other government agencies.
That explains the astronomical wealth accumulated by the regime’s key figures and senior officials. Khamenei, controls the “Executive Committee of Imam’s Order” worth $95 billion. This is only a small portion of his assets. The assets of this financial empire are obtained through confiscation of properties of millions of Iranian citizens, including families of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and their supporters, as well as other dissidents and religious minorities. In addition, a large section of the vital arteries of the country’s economy is in the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards and such foundations as the Foundation of the Oppressed that is under Khamenei’s direct control and exempt from taxes, like all other property affiliated with him.
The state media have reported that “the gap between social strata in Iran has increased 30 fold” and “Iran has the largest class differences in the world.”
Growing unrest and protest:
In such circumstances, the population is becoming increasingly restive.
That is why Iranian workers and laborers have stepped up their confrontation with the ruling regime.
At least 1,300 worker strikes, sit-ins and demonstrations took place over the past year, specifically dozens of protests in recent weeks.
There has been more than 250 protest acts, strikes, sit-ins, in April alone. The figure for March was 120.
On April 16, teachers in 128 cities in 31 provinces protested. There are more than one million teachers in the country, serving 13 million students, and they have widespread influence in Iranian society.
A week of protest has been called for beginning on May 1, reaching its height on May 7.
The solution is not economical. It is rooted in the structure and foundation of the regime. It cannot be reformed. The economic prospects in Iran will only change with the toppling of the clerical regime. The regime’s economic structure is so deeply intertwined into its political structure that without regime change by the Iranian people and the organized resistance it is inconceivable to see major economic reform.
As Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the Iranian resistance said today in her statement on the occasion of May 1: “The path to freedom, equality and justice passes through regime change in Iran, which can be made possible in our own hands.”
She added: “The protests of Iranian workers, the struggles of the nation as a whole, and the steadfastness of the organized resistance movement herald a new era where fundamental freedoms and rights are safeguarded for Iran’s workers where they enjoy the right to form syndicates and labor associations, to go on strike, stage protests, enjoy job security, health insurance and unemployment benefits; an Iran where men and women are equal, all discriminatory laws are abolished and child labor is banned.”