Iranian parliament postpones examination of labour
law reform bill
TEHRAN, June 9 (AFP) - Iran's conservative-dominated parliament Wednesday
postponed detailed discussion of a controversial bill aimed at easing labour
legislation for small businesses.
Under the bill, small businesses with three employees or less will
be exempt from the current legislation for six years.
Parliament approved the general principles Tuesday, but members decided
in secret ballot to postpone article by article examination of the bill
for another six months.
The delay reflects the sensitivity of the project.
The plan to reform the law was welcomed by the powerful traditional
merchants of the bazaar and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, both
Business circles consider the bill to be indispensable as an incentive
to boost economic activity and reduce unemployment.
But the planned changes are strongly opposed by the reformist government
of President Mohammad Khatami which believes it will only increase the
unemployment rate, officially put at 14 percent but significantly higher
in the sprouting outer urban areas and among young people.
The pro-Khatami press Wednesday protested against the passing of the
bill's general principles. The daily Kar-o-Kargar (Work and Workers)
quoted member of parliament Mohammad Abtahi reflecting the general anger
of the reformists.
"Even now when some kind of law does exist, workers still aren't
paid their minimum wage, so what do you expect will happen if the laws
protecting the working class disappear?" he said.
Under current legislation, it is almost impossible to dismiss workers,
and employers are obliged to pay large sums in compensation even when the
workers agree to leave.
Tehran workers staged a vast rally on May 1, World Labour Day, to protest
against the proposed bill, which Labour minister Hossein Kamali described