Eid Nowruz, the Persian New Year, is on its way in Iran. But Iran’s rule has made Eid a mourning for the people, especially the workers and the poor.
This is at a time when the coronavirus is spreading like wildfire in Iran, and government agents are depriving workers of their wages, forcing workers to come to work at the risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus.
In these circumstances, workers are left looking for their wages. Despite the poverty line of 10 million Tomans, their wages do not provide their basic needs. But government officials also refuse to pay these meager salaries.
In this regard, February 18, a group of workers of Shahriar Municipality held a protest rally in front of the city council to protest the non-payment of their salaries for two months.
In a video interview, three of the protesting workers described their problems as follows:
Worker: ‘We came here and gathered for the salary increase. They did not pay us for two months.’
Reporter: ‘How much is your salary?’
Worker: ‘My salary is 2.45 million and 150,000 is the end of service bonus. You, Mr. mayor, can you live with 2.6 million? And make a living?’
Reporter: Do you have a problem with the mayor or with the contract and service company?
Worker: ‘Mr. Contractor says the mayor should give it to me then I can give it to you.’
Another Worker: ‘I’m like him too. My salary is low. And now I have not received my salary for two months.’
The conditions of all workers are complicated, their life cycles do not change, a group of workers in Mahshahr went on strike for the third day on February 15, to protest the dismissal of their colleagues from the South Tehran Company.
February 15, a group of HEPCO workers held a protest rally in protest of their problems and demands along the Arak railway.
The state-run daily Kar-o-Karegar wrote in acknowledging the dire living conditions of the workers: ‘The cost of living basket for a working family with a population of 3.3 people is 10 million tomans, while the minimum wage received by workers, eventually reaches 3 million tomans. However, due to high inflation, purchasing power has fallen sharply and the workers’ table has become empty.’ (Kar-o-Karegar, February 9)
And on February 15, the same daily, quoting a government official, the head of the Supreme Chamber of Trade Unions, wrote:
‘Workers’ wages and benefits will be determined unilaterally and to the benefit of the employer in collective agreements. Under the current circumstances, workers will see their minimum wages violated. For example, the job nature of brick factory workers is one of the hard and harmful jobs. This group is not only deprived of the rights because of the hard work, but the news indicates that the situation of this group is not good, and they are deprived of the minimum. Not only is the employer reluctant to negotiate in the true sense of the word, but it simply violates the worker’s rights.’
But why aren’t people’s problems solved? The situation is so difficult and indisputable that the state media has also admitted it.
The state-run daily Mostaghel on February 20 wrote: ‘None of the social classes of the Iranian people have a real representative in the government structure. Workers and other lower classes in Iran who are worse than other sections of society. The workers do not even have a real union. They also do not have a media. Their voices do not reach anywhere.” (Mostaghel, February 20).
The Arman daily on February 15, with the headline ‘Let’s not fill the workers ‘patience bowl’, acknowledged the oppression and exploitation by the government and its institutions. It further acknowledged the workers’ impatience with all this oppression and exploitation and expressed its concern and wrote:
‘This is not the right path that has been chosen (by the government) for the workers and their lives and livelihoods, and it may reach critical points. Once we reach that dangerous situation and cross that critical point, no one can solve the problems that have arisen. It should be noted that all the problems will explode like a volcano and at the same time, we will not see good results on the day when the tolerance of the majority of the society, i.e. the workers, is exhausted and their patience is exhausted.’
It is very clear that the main problem and concern of the author of this article is not that oppression and exploitation of workers, but his main concern is about the clear conditions for the uprising of the people, including the workers.
Of course, such conditions of oppression and exploitation by the government are not limited to the working class, but all the poor sections of society are in such a situation that the media and government experts, while acknowledging it, are worried about their patience and revolt. An uprising that is sometimes called the uprising of the hungry.