Iran’s labor minister resigns after weeks of protests

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Iran’s labor minister resigned on Tuesday after being heavily criticized for his handling of issues related to the job market and pensions, sparking widespread protests in recent weeks.

Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Hojjatollah Abdolmaleki sent his letter of resignation to President Ebrahim Raisi on Tuesday, Tasnim news agency reported.

In recent weeks, protests over economic issues have been reported in at least 40 cities and towns across Iran, with many demonstrators chanting anti-government slogans and calling for the overthrow of the regime.

The majority of the protesters were pensioners and retired government employees, who have called for a significant increase in pensions to offset rising prices amid the country’s mounting economic woes.

The Ministry of Labour, Welfare and Social Security announced earlier this month that it is increasing pensions by 57.4 percent to 55.8 million Iranian rials ($177) a month. But retirees say it’s too little and too late to deal with years of inflation.

Iran has seen a spate of protests in recent weeks over soaring food prices and after a deadly building collapse that protesters blamed on negligence and corruption.

Meanwhile, Iran’s parliament on Tuesday issued its first “yellow card” of this year’s session to Industry and Trade Minister Reza Fatemi-Amin after members of the advisory assembly said they were not satisfied with his answers during questioning.

The Iranian parliament issues symbolic “yellow cards,” also known as warning cards, to ministers who have failed to convince MPs with their answers when summoned to parliament for questioning on a specific issue or their performance.

According to parliamentary rules, a minister receiving three yellow cards can be impeached.

Earlier this week, Iran’s currency fell to its lowest as talks to revive the country’s shattered nuclear deal with world powers remained deadlocked.

Traders in Tehran exchanged the rial at $332,000 on Sunday, up from $327,500 on Saturday. That represented a change of more than 4.4 percent from June 1, when it was trading at 318,000 per dollar.

In central Tehran, dozens of shopkeepers took to the streets to protest the state of the economy after many closed their shops following a recent hike in corporate taxes. Videos posted on social media showed security forces clashed with the striking shopkeepers and smashed shop windows in the capital.

Updated Jun 14, 2022 6:54 am

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