Iran: Road and construction workers

At least 100,000 workers in northern Iranian provinces have been laid off because of the coronavirus epidemic, while 65,000 more have registered for unemployment insurance, according to the state-run Shargh daily. 

In its April 27 report about unemployment and poor living conditions of workers, it was reported that this is only a portion of the true number from these provinces and that other provinces have not yet made an announcement. 

Shargh also brought up the workers’ health as a pressing issue given the recent reopening of workshops, factories, and other non-essential businesses. They stressed that 37 out of the 82 workers in the petrochemical factory of Urmia, in northwest Iran, who were tested for the coronavirus were told that they were sick. This means 45% of the workplace had the coronavirus. 

More alarming still is that the workers, because of their low income, likely did not (and still do not) have access to medical treatment. This means that they may well still be sick or that those not infected yet may be forced to choose between dying or plunging their family into debt. 

As International Labor Day approaches on May 1, Iranian workers are in a situation like never before, and it will likely just get worse as time moves on. 

It’s not like economic hardships and a lack of response from the regime is anything new to the workers of Iran, but the regime’s dire actions regarding the coronavirus crisis, which has led to the reopening of the country’s economy way before the virus was in any way under control, has meant that Iranian workers are in grave danger. 

The article read: “In Mazandaran (northern Iran) and according to remarks made by a local labor organization official, at least 80,000 construction workers have been laid off. Despite the government’s pledges on supporting the workers in the current circumstances, these workers have yet to receive any money. Iran’s workers will be facing even more difficult circumstances before the upcoming International Labor Day.” 

Meanwhile, over 300 workers from the Iran Zarrin plates factory were made unemployed because the goods are not selling right now, possibly because of store closures and possibly because of an impending recession, and the warehouses are full of products with nowhere else to store it. These 300+ people are in danger of losing their jobs permanently and have registered to receive unemployment insurance/benefits. 

This lackluster response to the problems of working-class Iranians will result in additional social unrest and dissent against the mullahs. 

The Iranian economy, due to the regime’s institutionalized corruption, is not able to be at the service of the Iranian workers. The regime’s officials have been plundering people’s wealth for terrorism, and their economy is based on this.  The regime’s factions, despite their infightings that are over more share of power, follow the same economic pattern for plundering people.  

In this regard, the state-run Jahan-e Sanat, in an article on April 25 wrote: “Our economy is a mandatory economy. The root of many of our problems and incessant economic challenges is our economy’s mandatory nature. In this regard, there is no difference between governments. The difference is in the method of issuing economic orders. None of the governments explain about these orders, because they do not consider people and force them to choose these orders.”  

The article continues: “The economic orders are about some issues in which the government has some interests. They do not care about people’s benefits. But within the last four decades, each government that came to power was previously so-called legalized by passing a law at the parliament.  For example, the ninth government after the revolution (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s government) while citing the “Targeted Subsidies Act”, increased the fuel and bread prices overnight and at the same time wired 45,000 tomans ($45 at that time) as a cash subsidy to all Iranian citizens’ account. In other words, with an order, they put 45,000 toman in people’s pockets and took 400,000 tomans ($400 dollars at that time) from their other pockets in the form of increasing fuel and bread prices.”