Thousands of Iranian workers have signed a protest letter sent to President Ebrahim Raisi against an increase that would see the minimum wage rise by only about half of the current inflation rate.

In the letter, which was signed by almost 20,000 workers, a request was made to immediately annul the increase and instead approve a new pay rise that would reflect rapidly rising prices.

A government resolution based on a decision of the Supreme Labor Council, which includes representatives from the government, employers, and workers, set the increase at 27 percent for minimum wage for workers after the Persian New Year on March 21.

The February inflation rate was 53.4 percent, while annual price growth in March was 63.9 percent.

While the Iranian president’s office has yet to officially respond to the letter, Iranian media quoted the government’s economic spokesperson as saying that there are currently no plans to change the size of the wage increase.

The new resolution raises the minimum wage for workers from 41,790,000 rials ($82) to 53,073,300 rials ($104). Inflation for the current year is projected to be in the range of 40 to 60 percent.

Hossein Habibi, a member of the board of directors of the High Council of Islamic Labor Councils, stated that the 27 percent wage increase is not in line with the first and second clauses of Article 41 of the Labor Law and is therefore illegal.

He also reported that workers have filed a complaint with the Administrative Justice Court.

Widespread protests have been held across the country against the wage increase resolution, including demonstrations by workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-Industrial Complex and retirees of the Social Security Organization in the cities of Shush, Shushtar, and Ahvaz.

Unrest has rattled Iran since last summer in response to declining living standards, wage arrears, and a lack of welfare support. Labor law in Iran does not recognize the right of workers to form independent unions.

Adding to the dissent, the death in September of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini while in police custody for allegedly wearing her head scarf improperly breathed new life into nationwide demonstrations, which officials have since tried to quell with harsh measures.

The activist HRANA news agency said that more than 500 people have been killed during the unrest, including 71 minors, as security forces try to stifle widespread dissent.

Thousands have been arrested in the clampdown, with the judiciary handing down harsh sentences — including the death penalty — to protesters.

Source » rferl