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۱۳۹۳ اردیبهشت ۸, دوشنبه

Economic Deregulation and Workers’ Wages

With coming to power of the Hassan Rouhani government and in the framework of the Islamic Republic’s general policies, privatization programs and cutting of the subsidies, based on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund’s prescriptions, are being implemented with haste. These programs which include making the work-force cheaper for the native and foreign big-capitalists, deregulation in the work-place and work-relations for rendering the Labor-Law ineffective, cutting the subsidies in the name of the so called “Targeting of the Subsidies”, expanding the Free and Especial Economic Regions with the intension of enslaving the workers, raiding the national properties in the name of privatization, expanding the private sector for the purpose of a few people attaining huge amounts of profits, and raiding the workers’ properties and savings in the Social Security Organization, has destroyed the workers’ lives and their class interests.

While according to the ILANA’s (Islamic Republic’s Labor News-Agency) March 11, 2014 report, “A family’s monthly living expenses on the basis of the poverty-line is 1800000 Tomans (one Dollar is approximately equivalent to 3000 Tomans)”; in a report from the conclusion of the meeting for determining the wage, which decided on the 608800 Tomans being the 2014 workers’ monthly wage; on April 12, 2014, quoting the Minster of Labor Rabieih, ILANA wrote, “With representatives from three groups, government, ‘workers’ and management present, ‘with complete consensus’ and workers’ and managers’ ‘unanimous member and observer votes’, the High Labor Council approved the following (wage) acts for the coming year.” On April 12, 2014, at the first 2014 Rabieih’s summit with the official labor organization’s representatives, all of the so called labor representatives applauded determination of the 609000 Tomans, an amount equivalent to one-third of the poverty-line as wage, and the Secretary General of the Grand Trade Center of the Workers’ Associations indicated, “Wage increase was the result of bargaining with one another of the social partners; and we defend the result of what was achieved with the Minister of Cooperation, Labor and Social Welfare’s insight, and the harmony which existed between the workers’ and the management organizations.”                 

Three years ago, due to the elimination of the subsidies from energy, food items, medicine,….., Islamic Republic government officials promised monthly payment of 45000 Tomans per person, and supplying the energy needs of the industrial production and medicine….. They called cutting of the subsidies, “Targeting of the Subsidies”; and the 30 percent of the income from “Targeting of the Subsidies”, which was supposed to be allocated to the industrial production, was immediately cut; which resulted in destruction of thousands of production plants and unemployment of millions of workers. Last year was the time for cutting of the “Reference Currency” from medicine and essential goods; which resulted in devastation of the medicine production and the astronomical price hikes. Despite 20 to 24 percent increases in the price of water, electricity,……., as part of the second phase of the “Targeting of the Subsidies” during the recent few weeks, using various types of ploys during the last two months, regime’s officials have decided on taking the 45000 Tomans of monthly payment back as well. On April 15, 2014 ILANA wrote, “About 90 percent of the workers in Hamadan Province are employed with temporary contracts…. Temporary contracts in the current economic conditions are like having no job security and the government can not expect from such workers to turn down receiving of the subsidies.” According to the Mehr News-Agency’s April 13, 2014 report, Deputy Industry Minster announced, “Deregulation is the most important action that the Ministry of Industry……will take; and on the other side, easing the conditions for export will substitute payment of the cash subsidies.”

During the recent few months Rouhani has changed status of considerable sections of the southern parts of the country into Free and Especial Economic Regions. While merchants make immense amounts of money from the import tax exemption in the Free Economic Regions, workers employed in these regions will not be covered by the Labor Law and the Social Security benefits; in other words, workers will turn into slaves with no legal protections. On March 31, 2014, in a gathering of the Free-Trade Regions’ administrators, Rouhani indicated, “In some cases the seven Free Economic Regions can turn into model economic development regions in the country; because, they are not suffering from the restricting laws and regulations.” On March 5, 2014, Taiebnia, Islamic Republic’s Minister of Economic and Financial Affairs described “only 3 percent of the privatizations completely genuine”; regardless of that he emphasized, “We are in the process of preparing the environment by transferring economic activities to the private sector.”

During the recent weeks we have witnessed strong labor opposition to the government’s aim of transferring the health-care section of the Social Security Organization to the Ministry of Health’s “health insurance.” For instance, quoting workers on the 9th and 12th of April, ILANA wrote: “Transferring the health funds of the Social Security Organization into a governmental organization means transferring billions of Tomans of workers’ funds into the government treasury”; “With this act, the free of charge treatment of the Social Security Organization’s insured workers will be terminated.” In the face of all such opposition, while emphasizing the Worker House organization’s (center for the government sanctioned labor organizations) support for the “Rouhani government’s general policies”, according to the ILANA’s April 13, 2014 report, during his meeting with the Deputy General Secretary of the German Social Democratic Party (SPD), Ralf Mutzenich at the Worker House in Tehran, Ali Reza Mahjob, General Secretary of the Worker House described differences in views between the Worker House organizations and   the Rouhani Government to be “minimal”; and considered “the Rouhani government’s intention….in the framework of the health insurance plan….., as a prelude for social insurance….., and was hopeful regarding the unemployment insurance for the unemployed in the near future.”

Since the start of its work, Rouhani administration has made wide-ranging efforts for complete deregulation of our country’s economy. During the fourth meeting of the Rouhani government’s high-ranking officials with the International Monetary Fund authorities, on April 11, 2014, Director of Iran’s Central Bank requested Christine Lagarde, Director of the International Monetary Fund that the International Monetary Fund hold “regional training sessions in Tehran”; Christine Lagarde agreed to his request. In other words, Rouhani government officials intend to turn Iran into the regional center for training in “Free-Market Economy.” The only way to protect the working class interests, and struggle against repression and exploitation by the native and foreign big-capitalists, is organization of the workers in independent workers’ syndicates and unified struggle of our country’s working class.

United Workers Everything

Isolated Workers Nothing