Economy, Business And Markets

Labor Ministry Pushing for Business-Friendly Ambiance

Finance Desk
Labor Ministry Pushing for Business-Friendly Ambiance
Labor Ministry Pushing for Business-Friendly Ambiance

The government is doing all it can to promote the ease of doing business, reduce the bloated bureaucracy  and break the chains of red tape by creating optimal harmony between the workers and employers, the Minister of Cooperatives, Labor and Social Welfare Ali Rabiei said Sunday.

In a meeting with the board members of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, he said he is cognizant of the hard conditions of industries and businesses due to the recession and pledged his ministry's cooperation in addressing the concerns of private companies.

"We reached some good agreements on five key issues including that the Labor Ministry to respond to the complaints of the business community on a daily basis," Rabiei told reporters after the meeting.

The business community, hard hit by stagflation and worsened by years of international sanctions, has long complained about the labor and social security laws as being unfair. Add to this what the private firms say is "the unwanted and unhelpful interference of state-affiliated bodies" in the economy, which simply have no regard for ground realities and the dismal condition of manufactures.

The bulk of Iran's labor laws, which date back to decades ago, have been influenced by socialist tendencies that normally treat the employers and business owners with suspicion if not disdain.  Strict retirement laws related to stressful and difficult jobs, the right of workers to easily sue their bosses and the big share of employers in the workers' mandatory medical/pension schemes has been among the main gripes of private enterprise.

Iran's private sector has grown more confident in expressing its concerns to government bodies after President Hassan Rouhani took office in 2013. Ministers and other senior officials have routinely held meetings with business leaders to lend an ear to their needs.

"There has never been such a level of trust between the government and private businesses," Rabiei said.

He said his ministry had slashed the number of jobs in the 'stressed category' from 100 plus to 13, thereby removing the unnecessary burden of early retirement on private businesses and the labor market as a whole.

In response to complaints from ICCIMA's board members about laws that allow the Social Security Organization to probe company records dating back ten years, the minister announced that period would be reduced to "six months."

"There is no longer any such thing as 'criminal investigation' into the affairs of businesses. There will just be a 'probe' albeit with the consent of business owners," the minister said.

He announced plans to classify jobs based on their "efficiency" and "output" adding that the Labor Ministry, carrying the baggage of gross mismanagement of the former government, has enforced laws that have reduced workplace fatal accidents by 20.5%.

Enough of Trial and Error

Rabiei said the country needs four crucial elements to get back on track: rationalism, hard work, collective wisdom and work ethics.

"We can’t afford to make mistakes any more or squander one dollar of our recourses," he said referring to the seemingly unending practice of trial and error going on for nearly four decades. The country has only 5-10 years to develop the right course to be able to salvage itself and move forward, the minister said.

"If we want to achieve 8% growth we have to foster an 'industrial middle class' and not just a merchant class" he said as a matter of fact.

Noting that the government prefers a bigger and bolder role for the workers, employers and entrepreneurs, he said the Rouhani administration will never turn a blind eye to the needs of those at the lower-end of the economic ladder.

 "Through the welfare policies of the government 10 million undocumented workers have received health insurance coverage. We also have strived to fight malnutrition and save the children left behind in education."

 In the end the minister asked for help from private business to find jobs for some 2,000-3,000 foster care children who turn 18, which was warmly received by ICCIMA's board members.