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IRAN: Ahmadinejad cuts wages raised before election

July 26, 2009 | 12:56 pm

Iran-retirees Tens of thousands of Iranians were in for a shock in recent days when they got their paychecks and found their wages had dropped back to the same level as before election season.

After boosting the salaries of government employees and retirees for two months in the run-up to the June 12 elections -- in what critics decried as a naked attempt at vote-buying --  the government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has slashed wages again.

According to a report Sunday by the semi-official Iranian Labor News Agency, wages for retired army personnel have been cut by $100 to $250 per month. Hamshahri, a daily newspaper run by Tehran's mayor, put the decreases at $60 to $200 per month.

That's no small change in a country where civil servants and retirees typically live off a  few hundred dollars a month and inflation continues to eat into people's standard of living.

The salary cuts also have hit other public service employees, who were lavished with praise and bonuses in the weeks before the election. 

One schoolteacher, speaking on condition of anonymity, said her salary was increased from $370 to $540 two months before the election. When she looked at her paycheck at the end of the Persian month of Tir several days ago, she discovered it was back down to the same as before the election.

Many considered the salary increases long-overdue adjustments for inflation.

-- Borzou Daragahi in Beirut

Photo: Retirees in a park in Iran. Credit: Hooshang Hadi / Iranian Labor News Agency