Last updated: 1 May, 2014

Rouhani promises Iran’s workers better conditions

President Hassan Rouhani promised Thursday to improve labour conditions for Iran’s workers, particularly by increasing job security in the ailing economy and banning gender discrimination.

Ironically, Rouhani’s government had refused to issue a permit for workers to rally in the capital to mark International Labour Day, as was the case with the administration of former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

In live remarks on state television, Rouhani said in Tehran that the government was prioritising “job security (as a foundation for) creating jobs… and that it does not tolerate gender discrimination in the job market.”

Rouhani also promised better health insurance for workers.

Iran’s official unemployment rate stands at 10.4 percent, with nearly one in four people under the age of 25 seeking jobs, according to official figures.

The economy is also grappling with high inflation, recession and international sanctions that have bitten in to Iran’s oil exports and also limited its access to the global banking system.

Rouhani also criticised high imports under ex-president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, saying: “We created jobs for other countries while we caused unemployment among our youths by importing foreign-made goods.”

He did not elaborate.

On Wednesday, Alireza Mahjoub, head of the main Khaneh Kargar labour union, said the interior ministry had denied permission to hold a Labour Day rally.

“Labour Day provides the opportunity to pursue the neglected demands of workers and a rally can provide the grounds for it,” Mahjoub was quoted by the ILNA news agency as saying.

“The previous government did not approve of our requests to hold rallies… This year, the new government too denied our request even though it’s our indisputable and clear right to hold rallies,” he said.

Rouhani did not comment on the matter.

On Tuesday, influential Expediency Council chief Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, considered as close to Rouhani, expressed support for a rally to be held.