Translator's Note: The official unemployment
rate in Iran stands at 18%. Unofficial rates however are as high as 40%. The
official minimum wage is $263 per month, and the legal working day should not
exceed 8 hours or a total of 44 hours for 5.5 days. (1) Many of the unemployed
have no choice but to accept lower wages and longer working hours. Below are
large excerpts from a report by the reformist Iranian Labor News Agency, which
describes the types of jobs, wages and working hours that unemployed Iranians
are forced to accept.
For more information about poverty in Iran and about the history of the Iranian
Labor News Agency, please see my translator's note to the article entitled
"Poverty Line: A 'Hoax?" (2)
When you get lost in the commotion of the city, it is only the workers who can
show you extreme pain and expose you to the unsavory smell of life. Believe me,
this is true. Given the current Iranian economy, being a worker is very
difficult. It permanently exposes you to the bitter taste of life.
Of course the road is open to everyone. Anyone who is unemployed can experience
what it is like to be a worker for a while. In this city [Tehran -tr.] there are
jobs that await the unemployed.
The jobless in Tehran
These are jobs that are not covered by labor
laws, insurance and the minimum wage, i.e. issues which continue to be the
subject of a battle between workers and employers. These are neither underground
and illegal jobs offered unbeknownst to the government, nor part-time jobs for
which wages and benefits do not fall under the government's jurisdiction. These
are jobs advertised daily in the job advertisement pages of Tehran's morning
newspapers. Job seekers search them in the hope of finding a job. Perhaps
hundreds of managers and employed people glance at them without any interest.
Job seekers however, continue to dial eight-digit telephone numbers. Upon
discovering that wages and benefits are not even at the minimum level, they hang
up and test their fortune again by trying another job advertisement. If a long
search for work, forces them to forego the minimum wage and health insurance
requirements, they join all the other job seekers who have given up on the
minimum wage. They obtain the employer's address and fill out the job
application without any hope.
All of this in order to work from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at a clothes packaging
workshop in exchange for $180 to $200 per month, or in order to work at a
similar workshop, where justice is slightly more observed as it concerns worker'
wages, and where they can work for ten hours a day and earn $220 per month, with
the hope of getting health insurance after a year.
It is not only the packaging companies that reveal this lack of regard for the
rights and benefits of workers. Sales clerks at clothing stores, cosmetic stores
and medical equipment stores, and in general all sales clerks are not exceptions
to the rule. The unemployed who do not have production skills and have good oral
skills, are part of the above category.
An inexperienced sales clerk who works 12 hours a day, receives $120 to $140 per
month. Experienced sales clerks receive $200 to $250 per month. If they are
skilled and can demonstrate good sales in their monthly work record, they
receive a commission as well. However, there is no health insurance.
The situation is much worse for the typists. The pay for each typed page is 12
cents. A hired typist sits and types at a computer monitor from 8:30 a.m. to 5
p.m. At most, she or he makes $230 per month.
Unskilled workers are also not immune from this lawlessness. During the last few
and first few months of each years, determining the minimum wage for workers
turns into a great battle between workers and employers. Various meetings are
held at the Supreme Council for Labor in order to arrive at a single figure.
Workers and employers each struggle to increase or decrease the wages on the
basis of their interests. Unskilled workers do not benefit from this battle.
They receive the $8 per day laborer's wage. Taking into account the four monthly
days off, their wages amount to $208 per month. A worker who pastes shoe parts
12 hours a day from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. receives $10 per day.
The term employee, may imply more optimism about the wages. However, the wages
are no better. Computer-savvy employees who work for 12 hours a day from 9 a.m.
to 9 p.m. at an internet café, receive $200 per month. An office employee who
works eight hours a day, receives $200 per month and a 15% commission.
Although, job advertisements list the wage of a secretary as $300 per month and
sometimes even $300 to $500 per month, secretaries often do not receive an
adequate wage. They receive $200 per month for an eight or 9 hour working day.
Wages are lower for part-time work or job types such as answering the phone or
typing letters etc. . .
Nowadays the $200 monthly wage, and not the minimum wage, is considered the norm
by employers. This is the approximate first figure that is offered to job
seekers in morning job advertisements. This figure is about $70 less than the
minimum wage which the Ministry of Labor has set as the monthly wage for a
However, given the rise in marketing job during the past few years, the concept
of a fixed salary has become meaningless. Most employers who hire job seekers
for marketing purposes, speak in terms of commissions from the beginning. Even
if the employers offer a fixed salary, most of them consider it a benefit paid
alongside the commission.
This is not the end of the story as far as wages offered to the unemployed are
concerned. Iran's crowded capital is not the only place where wages and benefits
for workers are ignored. The situation is even worse in other cities in our
country. In those cities, wages amount to $150 to $200 per month. Most employers
who do not want to offer legal wages or health insurance to their employees, pay
a $150 fixed monthly wage and a commission on the side.
For a long time, the subject of the minimum wage for workers has been brought up
twice a year. However, sub-minimum wages which violate the labor laws continue.
Given the opposition to the enforcement of the minimum wage, this subject has
been forgotten for the past month.
Nevertheless, in the underground economy of this city and other cities in this
country. . . the large unemployed labor force has created the condition for
employers to offer wages and benefits that openly rob the workers. In light of
this worrisome unemployment, there are no inspections to enforce working hours,
wages and insurance benefits. The unemployed are the victims. They work 12 hours
a day, that is 4 hours above the legal working day, in order to receive wages
below the minimum wage. . .
... Payvand News - 11/02/09 ... --