Shrinking pie causes intense struggle over wages in Iran

Al-Monitor | : Ayatollah Ali Movahedi Kermani ascended the pulpit to lead the weekly Friday prayer session at the University of Tehran on Dec. 7. He chose to spend significant time reviewing and commenting on the ongoing negotiations over the fiscal budget of the next Iranian year (beginning March 21, 2019). Movahedi Kermani proclaimed, “I demand that wages be increased justly and righteously. One solution I recommend would be for the government to add a fixed amount to everyone’s salary. I’m ready to sit down with the gentlemen [in charge of this matter] and debate them on this point any time and place they want. And I will prove to them that justice is not the 20% salary raise [that the government currently has in mind].”

The influential Friday prayers preacher is only the latest voice to weigh in on contested negotiations that look set to determine salary increases for millions of government employees and civil servants, including army personnel, teachers and nurses.

The US decision to reimpose sanctions on Iran and the resulting fall in oil revenues have severely constrained the administration of President Hassan Rouhani’s legroom for fiscal expenditures. With annual inflation closing in on the 20% mark and the economy in shambles, all platforms where wages are negotiated carry high stakes in the country’s competitive political landscape. As the fiscal and economic pie looks set to shrink, struggles over who gets what have intensified significantly.

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