May 1 marks the International Labor Day, an occasion to defend justice, equality and human rights for workers on whose toil and efforts, the society’s welfare and happiness depend. Female workers in Iran do not enjoy their minimum rights. They are the cheapest workforce and their conditions at work is best described as “new slavery.”
Low wages, inferior jobs, and lack of job security are among the problems of female workers in Iran.
According to the researches done and published by official government agencies, in the Iranian year 1396 (March 2017 – March 2018), women comprised 80 per cent of workers who have no insurances.
The same report published by the official IRNA news agency on April 28, 2019, indicates that women are the first victims of in every economic crisis. They are the first to be fired in any lay-off plans to balance the workforce. Many employers believe that despite their experience and skills, women have less productivity due to marriage and pregnancy. According to this report, 65.9 per cent of the total number of unemployed in Iran are women.
Female workers suffer from double oppression partly because they are rarely hired in formal jobs due to provisions of the Iranian Law which gives priority to men. In contrast, female workers comprise the greater portion of the workforce in the informal sector. They are hired as the cheapest workforce in workshops not monitored by the government and greenlighted to pay less to their workers and deny them benefits or insurance.
Women who are desperate to have any job to earn their family’s living are widely preyed upon by such workshops.
Many female workers sell their workforce for a small amount of money without being felt or considered as a worker. They work between 10 to 12 hours at home applying glue on envelopes or sewing spangles on fabric, but their daily wage is around 5,000 tomans or merely a dollar. These women do not even have a specific employer and their products are sold through intermediaries who pocket most of their revenues.
At the same time, the status of Iranian workers is an off limit and the occasional inquiries and data published in this regard fail to address the number of women and the problems they face in this male-dominated environment, under discriminatory laws.