Fifty-eight percent of Iranian society, including workers and their families, are struggling to remain alive, according to the chair of the Supreme Labor Council’s Wage Committee Faramarz Toufighi.
On December 30, 2020, in an interview with Tasnim news agency affiliated to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, Toufighi pointed out rampant prices of essential goods. “Currently, the population of workers and their family members is more than 49 million people, which makes up about 58 percent of Iran’s society. Regarding the high prices, with a maximum revenue of 30,000 million rials [$120], this strata is struggling to remain alive, not just to make ends meet,” he said.
In his remarks, the Wage Committee’s chair explained that having a small apartment and a Pride Car has become a workers’ dream. “In such circumstances, while workers wish to have minimums, there are rich people who invest with massive sums and enjoy luxury lifestyles,” Toufighi added.
This is the flipside of the existing gap between society’s classes in Iran. While officials and their children and relatives enjoy aristocratic lifestyles, many citizens cannot make ends meet despite hard work day and night.
Earlier, Majid Farahani, the chair of Tehran City Council’s Budget and Financial Supervision, acknowledged that “today, we have seven poor deciles, and only three deciles of society are above the poverty line. We had never experienced such status quo,” according to Tasnim on December 14, 2020.
Notably, around ten million underground workers in Iran do not receive minimum wages, according to a member of the Supreme Labor Council Ali Aslani. Therefore, Iranian workers have no share of the country’s national assets, including oil revenue. Instead, Lebanese Hezbollah, Palestinian Hamas, Iraqi Shiite militias, Yemeni Houthis, and other extremist proxies line their pockets with impoverished Iranians’ wealth.
“There are workers whose rights are not supervised by anyone, and they receive even less than the minimum wage. Some of them receive 7 or 8 million rials [$28–$32] per month,” the semi-official ISNA news agency quoted Aslani as saying on January 2.
On the other hand, new people add to the country’s unemployed population every day due to the government’s mismanagement and squander of national resources on irresponsible projects. Officials’ shambolic policies have even earned criticism from government-linked individuals.
“Might officials actually live with workers’ salaries?” Toufighi questioned, adding, “In the past nine months, the product basket’s price has increased by around 200 percent. During a two-year period, housing expenditures both in prices and rents have become fivefold,” he added.
Observers believe that given unbridled inflation, workers’ purchasing power is too insignificant despite the increase in wages. They reported that working families had lost their purchasing power by 100 percent.
Workers’ representative at the Supreme Labor Council Nasser Chamani blamed the government’s failure to clarify a sufficient wage for workers. In this context, while the workers’ purchasing power has dropped by 100 percent, the government must probably increase their minimum wage.
In other words, the government, as the greater employer, must define a fair salary for workers, which has denied performing it so far. “This backwardness—regarding inflation rate and workers’ minimum wage—must be offset to improve workers’ living situation,” Chamani said.