Iran’s officials say workers have lost 90% of their purchasing power in the past six months, amid economic difficulties and expanding US sanctions.
The Supreme Center of Council’s Committee for wages issued the estimate on Thursday.
The SCCC announced this summer that the monthly cost of living is 48 million rials (about $1140 in official rates; $340 in open market) — more than four times the monthly minimum wage of 11.15 million rials ($265 official; $79 open). Some local news agencies report that the minimum wage at small workshops is much less.
There have been recurrent protests and strikes across Iran this year over wages and working conditions. There was a surge in nationwide demonstrations both in January and in June, and a national truckers’ strike is now in its third week, despite threats of arrests, prison sentences, and even executions.
A 70% fall in the value of the Iranian currency has fed a resurgence of inflation, after the Rouhani Government had brought the rate down to single digits from more than 40% in 2013. Prices of some goods are reportedly soaring between 50% and 100%, with the Iranian Students News Agency citing a labor representative, “The living condition for workers has become difficult.”
Officially-recognized trade unions are calling for wages of more than 50 million rials per months, and the Tehran bus union has prepared a petition, signed by 2000 people, calling for a pay rise.
Article 41 of Iran’s Labor Law mandates that the minimum monthly wage should be linked to the inflation rate and monthly cost of living. However, with the regime struggling with production, trade, and investment — and with comprehensive US sanctions from November 5 — there is little prospect of compliance.
The Government has reportedly considered special cards to working class people to ensure the purchase of essential goods at affordable prices. Others have labelled the system “rationing”, however, and trade unions say no steps have been taken.