Iranian Labor Ministry staff come out for unprecedented protest
In a first-ever revolt by Iranian government employees against a minister, hundreds gathered on Tuesday to reject the leadership of Hojjat Abdolmaleki.
Twitter users in Iran reported that some employees also gathered in the ministry’s parking lot and courtyard chanting slogans against Labor Minister Hojjat Abdolmaleki who told the press in February that he had laid off more than 1,000 employees.
Photos of the protest published by Iranian media, including the Rouydad24 website, show employees waiting for the minister to show up and answer their questions. However, he did not leave his office at the ministry.
Employees also accused Abdolmaleki of running an advertisement to show off his “achievements” despite criticism from staff and the media over his populist behavior. Some A Twitter user posted an advertising poster, adding that Abdolmaleki used ministry funds to highlight his performance. Several members of the Iranian parliament have declared that Abdolmaleki will be one of the first Raisi’s ministers will be dismissed as soon as the leadership of parliament authorizes the filing and progress of impeachment motions.
Reports from Tehran indicate that Deputy Labor Minister Mohammad Reza Hosseini tried to calm the protesters, but his efforts were unsuccessful. Employees chanted “Pay with Justice” demanding fair pay.
One employee told Rouydad24: “It is ironic that staff from other government and private companies come to the Ministry of Labor to air their grievances while their own employees have nowhere to go to seek redress for their grievances.”
Hojjat Abdolmaleki, Iranian Minister of Labor
Another employee asked, “How can the Minister of Labor handle the unemployment situation in the country when he cannot deal with the problems in his own ministry?” He recalled that Abdolmaleki had promised to quickly create millions of jobs in Iran at low cost, but this never materialized.
Other staff criticized the minister and his aides for putting on a show rather than working to resolve personnel issues. An employee told reporters that Abdolmaleki had not planned to fight unemployment in Iran since he took office eight months ago. Earlier, Abdolmaleki said in a bizarre comment that “job creation is not part of the Labor Ministry’s responsibilities.”
Criticism from other economy ministers in the Raisi administration has also increased in recent months. Lawmaker Behrouz Mohebbi harshly criticized the Minister of Industry on Tuesday Reza Fatemi Amin, who is also on the parliament’s impeachment list, accusing of failing to keep any of the many promises he made before joining the government.
Mohebbi further accused the executives of automobile manufacturing companies affiliated with the Ministry of Industry of driving foreign cars and not caring about the rising prices and falling quality of Iranian-made cars. “If they used Iranian cars, they would have made efforts to improve the quality of domestic products at least for the safety of their families,” he said.
Mohebbi also criticized the minister for not controlling the car market. According to media reports last week, the price of an older, entry-level compact car model called Pride, rose by 400 million rials ($1,600) overnight to 2 trillion rials.
Mohebbi said, “When Fatemi Amin’s credentials were discussed in parliament, he promised to end the monopoly of the two automakers affiliated with the ministry, boost production and improve quality. About eight months later, none of these promises have materialized.” He reminded Fatemi Amin that even Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has acknowledged that people are unhappy with the performance of his ministry.