One of the aspects of the government’s “One-Hundred Day Report” is its reemphasis on continuation of the major economic policies, especially implementation of the “Targeting of the Subsidies”, while cutting the “cash subsidies”. Up to now, “Targeting of the Subsidies” has caused devastating difficulties to the workers’ lives; therefore, exposing the nature of this program to workers and toilers is one of the responsibilities of the labor-union movement.
Within a few months after implementation of the “Targeting of the Subsidies”, due to the government’s violation of the law and its failure to pay the manufacturing industry’s 30 percent share of the income from “Targeting of the Subsidies”, crisis in all segments of the manufacturing industry began; and two years after the start of the implementation of the “Targeting of the Subsidies”, major segments of the Iranian manufacturing industries shut-down and millions of the Iranian workers lost their jobs and became destitute. A portion of the income from implementation of the “Targeting of the Subsidies” was supposed to be allocated to medicine and “essential goods”; however, approximately a year ago, gradual cutting of the “reference currency” from “medicine” and “essential goods” started as well. Everyone was supposed to receive a monthly cash subsidy of 45 thousand 500 Tomans (one dollar is approximately 3000 Tomans). In spite of the sharp decline in the national currency’s value during the last three years, and therefore, a severe reduction in the value of the cash subsidy, during the last two to three months, the “foresight and hope (label used by the President, Hassan Rouhani, when referring to his government)” government authorities are talking about “reform of the subsidies” and gradual elimination of the “cash subsidies”.
On 16th of October 2013, ISNA News Agency reported, “Regarding elimination of the cash subsidies for 30 percent of the population with high incomes, the government and the parliament are of the same opinion”; and again, on 21st of October, ISNA reported that according to “the Parliament’s Program and Budget Commission Chair’s announcement, the government has been instructed to identify 30 percent of the population with highest incomes within the next three months”. High-ranking government officials described the reason for elimination of the “cash subsidies” for the top 30 percent of the population with high-incomes as “1000 billion Tomans of monthly budget deficit”; However, ISNA had reported that the total amount of “cash-subsidies” distributed during the month of September was “113000 billion Tomans.” During the Conference for “Identification of Groups Deserving Cash Subsidies in
”, on October 28, 2013, Ali Rabieih, Minster of Cooperation, Labor and Social Welfare indicated, “Now we are at a point….facing severe economic necessities and difficulties; which has made a review of the ‘Targeting of the Subsidies Plan’ a necessity.” On November 16th, Ali-Mohammad Ahmadi, a member of the Parliament’s Program and Budget Commission also indicated, “In 2014 budget, I think government intends to pay cash subsidies to some people, provide goods for another segment of the population, and cut the third segment’s cash subsidies.” In a conversation with Mehr News Agency, on November 5th, Mohammad Bahger Nobacht, the government’s spokesman and Assistant to the President in Strategic Planning and Control also indicated, “Most likely, with the start of 2014, the second phase of the Targeting of the Subsidies will be implemented.” In another words, after all the devastation, while “reviewing” and gradually eliminating the “cast subsidies”, the government of “foresight and hope” is intent on implementing “phase two of the Targeting of the Subsidies.” Iran
The government and the parliament are discussing implementation of “phase two of the Targeting of the Subsidies” at a time where workers are living in a dreadful condition; and up to now, the eleventh government has not kept its promises. At a time where according to Rouhani, the inflation rate was 40 percent; and according to the ILAN’s report, the poverty-line was at one million five hundred thousand Tomans; Rouhani promised, “If elected”, he would increase workers’ salaries according to the law. Four months after the start of the eleventh government, workers’ 487 thousand Tomans of monthly salary has not changed yet. This is at a time that according to the Mehr News Agency’s August 20th report, workers’ 2011 and 2012 minimum wages were determined at 12.5 and 18.81 percent below the respective Central Bank’s announced inflation rates. While indicating that during the last decade, the “Iranian families’ income-gap grew by ten-folds”, Mehr News Agency’s August 20th report also added, “During the 2011…. the past President had given a strict order to the Minister of Labor not to allow more than 10 percent salary increase” for the workers.
Hassan Rouhani government’s high-ranking officials and parliament members are speaking of implementing “phase two of the Targeting of the Subsidies” at a time where there is not a month without news of tens of factories being shut-down and thousands of workers losing their jobs. At a time when the country had a yearly “100 billion dollars of foreign-currency income”, while eliminating billions of dollars of industry’s energy subsidies and subsidies from food items and medicine; to offset their destructive effects, according to the law that the parliament ratified, the Islamic Republic made several commitments. By “failing to pat” the industry’s portion of the income from elimination of the subsidies and clear violation of its own law, the Islamic Republic caused devastation of manufacturing industries and unemployment of millions of Iranian workers. With clear violation of its own law and its failure to allocate the medicine and “essential goods’” portion of the income from elimination of the subsidies, the Islamic Republic caused dreadful difficulties in Iranian workers’ and toilers’ lives. With clear violation of its own law, the Islamic Republic is intent on gradual elimination of the “cash subsidies”. At a time when workers and toilers had the worst living condition, last year the Islamic Republic reduced the national currency’s worth to one-third of its value within three months. While the workers’ minimum wage is one million Tomans below the poverty-line, the Islamic Republic is intent on “reforming the subsidies” again, and implementing the “phase two of the Targeting of the Subsidies.”
The only way to stop and impose retreat on the violators of the rights and interests of the Iranian working class is to organize workers in independent labor unions. Workers must understand that implementation of the “phase two of the Targeting of the Subsidies” will have devastating effects on their lives and their job security. Workers must be conscious of the splendid power of their independent organization. In the current conditions, independent labor unions have major responsibility: Organizing the workers’ isolated protests, on the basis of accurate class-oriented positions and workers’ class interests, is the urgent necessity of the current era. Victory over the class enemy will become possible only with unity and solidarity among the workers.