In the vast tapestry of global labor struggles, one thread that has often been overlooked is the plight of Iranian workers. Burdened by oppressive regime, economic hardships, and systemic exploitation, these workers are the unsung heroes of a global fight against capitalism grappling with inequality.

At the heart of the Iranian workers’ struggle lies a political landscape defined by authoritarianism and a web of intricate power dynamics. The ruling regime, exemplified by billionaire Ayatollahs, orchestrates a suffocating control over all aspects of Iranian society, including the labor force. Dissent is stifled, unions are suppressed, and workers are left voiceless. The myth of a workers’ paradise is shattered, revealing a twisted reality where exploitation thrives under the guise of ideological purity.

The publication of the complete text of the 7th Development Plan bill has triggered widespread condemnation from activists and labor organizations, who have vehemently denounced it as an “anti-labor” measure and an insidious attempt to resurrect slavery within official channels.

Unveiled on May 20 in the presence of the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the bill is slated to be presented to the parliament following its final review in the government committee. Spanning the years 2023 to 2027, the 7th development plan purports to establish the “major strategies of the country in the next five years” and encompasses 22 chapters and 7 main sections.

According to the Iranian Students News Agency, the head of Iran’s Plan and Budget Organization has brazenly claimed that the implementation of the 7th Development Plan will enable the country to achieve targets relating to food security, inflation reduction to single-digit rates, and economic growth within a mere five-year span.

Alarming reports have emerged, revealing troubling provisions within Article 15 of the bill, whereby employers are granted the authority to remunerate newly employed individuals with wages amounting to a mere fifty percent of the minimum wage sanctioned by the Supreme Labor Council during the initial three years of employment.

Additionally, employers are granted the unilateral power to terminate contracts at will. In an earlier development, on May 7th, the Deputy Minister of Labor Relations at the Ministry of Cooperatives, Labor, and Social Welfare proposed an amendment to Article 27 of the Labor Law, aiming to suppress dissenting workers in favor of appeasing employers.

Subsequent to this proposal, news outlets in Iran reported instances of government officials dismissing 4,000 project workers engaged in strikes at South Pars, while workers’ representatives were unceremoniously ousted from several industrial units.

Within the labyrinthine corridors of Iran’s labor market, exploitation becomes an art form. Workers find themselves trapped in a vicious cycle of informality, with many employed in the informal sector. This murky realm is devoid of legal protections, leaving workers vulnerable to abuse, wage theft, and hazardous working conditions. Without recourse to collective bargaining or effective labor laws, Iranian workers are condemned to face a daily struggle for survival, their dignity sacrificed at the altar of capitalism.

Furthermore, the 7th Development Plan Bill has faced fierce criticism for its provisions outlined in Article 16, which allow employers to exploit individuals “with special conditions” who fall under the purview of charity committees, paying them wages below the officially approved minimum wage for the year. Individuals referred by the prisons organization will also be subjected to this unjust treatment.

If this bill is ratified, it would flagrantly disregard the minimum wage stipulations set forth by labor laws, thereby leaving vulnerable segments of society bereft of the opportunity to improve their dire circumstances. Evidently, the government appears determined to perpetuate the official punishment of former prisoners through alternative means.

Notably, Article 41 of the Labor Law underscores that the determination of the minimum wage must be based on the inflation rate and the cost of living for a working family. Pertinently, a former member of the Supreme Labor Council disclosed weeks ago that the monthly cost of living is at least 10 times higher than the minimum wage, a statistic that has yet to be refuted by the authorities of the Islamic Republic.

Strikes and labor protests are increasing in Iran in a situation where the government has intensified the pressure on labor activists and the suppression of labor movements.

Worker struggles

Continuing its unyielding adherence to neoliberal policies, the Ebrahim Raisi administration unabashedly showcases the government’s callousness in burdening the Iranian people with the repercussions of capitalist crises, the economic bankruptcy of the Islamic regime, and the losses incurred due to its military policies, including punitive sanctions. While the government persistently claims invincibility in the face of economic sanctions, the harsh reality remains: millions of Iranian families find themselves mired in escalating poverty and abject misery, exacerbated by the administration’s relentless assault on the living standards of the working class.

The Iranian workers’ struggle remains shrouded in silence, obscured by a global media preoccupied with other narratives. Yet, within the quiet corners of factories, workshops, and households, a silent resistance persists. It is a struggle against the oppression of both state and capital, against the invisible chains that bind the Iranian working class. As global citizens, we must amplify their voices, expose the injustices they face, and stand in solidarity with their tireless quest for dignity, justice, and a better future. Only through collective action can we hope to break the cycle of exploitation and pave the way for a more equitable society, where every worker’s contribution is recognized and valued.

In recent days, Iran has been experiencing a surge in labor strikes and protests, reflecting widespread dissatisfaction among its citizens. Hundreds of cities across the country have become the stage for these demonstrations, highlighting the government’s apparent disregard for the living conditions of its people, fueled by its oppressive authority.

Update (May 26):

The recent report by the Iranian Parliament Research Center, published a few weeks ago, reveals a concerning trend: the number of people living in poverty in Iran has increased by 11 million over the past decade. This rise in poverty is attributed to the escalating costs of rent and healthcare. The report highlights that approximately one-third of Iran’s population is currently living in impoverished conditions, with no signs of improvement.

Despite the Iranian regime’s consistent claims through internal propaganda that Western economic sanctions have not impacted the country’s economy, the worsening situation paints the deep-rooted economic corruption and mismanagement, which have invited widespread criticism.

Presently, a significant 40% of Iran’s economy relies on oil exports.

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