Iran Pensioners Protest For Higher Payments To Cope With Rising Prices
Hundreds of pensioners on Tuesday rallied in front of government offices in several cities across the country in the latest of protests that began in July. On Monday hundreds of protesters gathered in front of the offices of the Planning and Budget Organization in Tehran and government offices in Gilan and Yazd provinces, chanting slogans such as “No more promises, Our Tables are bare.”
The Social Welfare Organization − also known as Social Security Organization − covers private-sector workers, including on a voluntary basis the self-employed. Protesters say their payments are far lower than government and military pensioners, and demand increases in line with inflation, currently put at 41.2 percent by the World Bank. Video footage and images posted on Twitter show rallies in Tehran, Kermanshah, Tabriz, Khorramabad, Isfahan, Arak, Mashhad, and Rasht.
Protesters in Tehran
Pensioners are not alone in struggling to buy basic items. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in February and with the continuing pressure of United States sanctions, at least 2 million Iranians have lost their jobs. Ordinary workers make the equivalent of $100-150 a month, one-third of what they earned three years ago before The US imposed sanctions.
But protesters also say their pension contributions over the years have been squandered by the Social Welfare Organization and that the SWO’s funds should not be used by the government to pay benefits to non-contributors. They demand that the government repay money owed to the Social Welfare Fund to fund an increase in their pensions.
In 2019, documents reviewed by the US National Security Council and leaked to Fox News claimed Iran’s pension funds had been driven to the brink of collapse by President Donald Trump’s ‘maximum pressure.’
The Iranian government has not announced poverty figures for the past few years. The only semi-official figure for a poverty line is a monthly income of 45 million rials (roughly $220) for a family of four, as stated in a report in June by the parliament’s Research Center. The report said the poverty line in Tehran had jumped from 25 million rial in two years.