Iranian workers celebrate the first of May, International Labor Day, even while months of unpaid wages and widespread lay off as a result of factory closures has rendered their livelihoods much graver than before.
Iranian laborers are denied basic labor rights, are laid off, have months of unpaid wages and when they stand up for their rights, are detained, tortured and sentenced to prison.
Although there were an impressive number of workers’ protests last year, all of them were suppressed by the ruling regime. Workers who participated in protests and demonstrations were prosecuted and dozens of them were sentenced to prison and flogging.
There are currently dozens of workers and trade unionists languishing in Iranian prisons. These workers are held solely for demanding their rights. Many of them have been tried in unfair trials, without due process and the right to a lawyer.
In 2018, workers held more than 1,865 gatherings in protest to their unpaid salaries, lack of insurance, and privatization.
According to reports, at least 76,571 Iranian workers have more than 2,059 months of unpaid salaries.
In 2018 at least 851 workers died due to the lack of safety in the workplace while at least 1,465 workers were injured.
The minimum wage for Iranians workers has been set at 812,000 tomans (equivalent to around 58 $). That’s almost three times below the poverty line which puts all workers squarely under the line of poverty.
For instance, imagine a construction worker in Tehran who has a wife and two children. He receives his wages on a daily basis and has to pay for his travel expenses and daily meals at work, in addition to his family’s expenses. His daily wage is 37,138 tomans, which is around $2.5 a day, taking into account the dollar rate last month selling at around 14,000 tomans.
According to Fariborz Reies Dana, an economist with ties to the regime, more than 70% of Iranian workers live under the absolute poverty line. He says that the minimum wage should not be less than 3.7 million tomans. This is while the current minimum wage is less than a third of this figure.