A workers’ wife self-immolated on September 22 since her husband had not received wages for five months in Dehdasht, western Iran. According to the state-run ISNA News Agency, the worker was identified as 39-year-old Mohammad Javad Erfani, a municipality worker in Dehdasht.
Mohammad said he and his wife had a verbal fight for not being able to afford their child’s school stationery. His wife self-immolated, and he also sustained 30% burns while trying to extinguish the fire. Both were taken to the hospital, but his wife passed away. Mohammad’s wife had suffered from 80% burns on her body.
Mohammad’s monthly wages are 5.8 million tomans (about $209), which is less than the absolute poverty line in Iran.
“We gathered in front of the municipality buildings to protest our unpaid wages, but no one listened,” Mohammad told ISNA.
“I have two sons and a daughter,” the worker added, saying his oldest son is in seventh grade, his next son is in first grade and his daughter is three years old.
“I don’t own a home and we live in the office hall which has two rooms. There are snakes and scorpions in the summers and it’s cold in the winter which makes life bitter for us,” the worker said. Mohammad said his wife was distressed since they did not have money to support their children’s needs for the re-opening of schools.
“My wife asked me where have you seen someone work for a company but not get paid and not be able to afford stationery for their children? She went to the yard and poured lamp oil on herself and set herself on fire,” Mohammad said.
“The cause of her self-immolation was poverty. Some of my colleagues leave their subsidy cards at the bakers so they can ‘borrow’ bread for their family since their wages have not been paid,” Mohammad told ISNA.
The mayor of Dehdasht said that around 200 municipality workers have a similar situation.
This is not an isolated case.
In another report by the state-run Rokna News Agency, two construction workers attempted suicide yesterday for not receiving their wages in Ilam, western Iran. The two workers intended to jump off the building they were constructing but were persuaded to stop by the province’s Deputy Prosecutor and social workers, and a promise to get their wages. The names of the two workers were not stated in the report.
In early June, three workers self-immolated for not receiving months of delayed wages, in Kermanshah, western Iran. The three workers had not received their wages for months from the Road and Urban Development Office, and the self-immolation in front of the Road and Urban Development Office was an act of their protest.
On June 9, a worker in Tehran attempted suicide because of delayed wages. The worker had climbed on a 30-meter-high tower crane of a half-finished building and was going to attempt suicide.
Workers in Iran are suffering from a deteriorating economy and can barely make ends meet. Due to record lows of the national currency and economic problems, as well as corruption and mismanagement in Iran, the poverty line for a family of four has increased to 10 million tomans (around $361). The absolute poverty line is 6.8 million tomans (around $245), which puts 50% of the Iranian population, including many workers, under the line of “absolute poverty”.