In a rare move, Iran's Minister of Labor has announced his resignation in a letter to President Ebrahim Raisi. Hojjat Abdolmaleki stepped down amid ongoing mass protests by retirees across the country.
Fars News Agency confirmed on Tuesday that Raisi's office had accepted the resignation. Rumors that Abdolmaleki was on the way out had swirled since the start of the week.
In his letter, the former minister cited "increased coordination" within the government as the reason for his stepping down. But it came after a week of sustained protests by pensioners in at least 16 cities, from Tehran to Ahvaz to Mashhad, over the non-increase to their monthly payments despite years of inflation in Iran.
On Sunday, June 5, the cabinet decided to increase the social security payments to non-minimum-wage retirees by just 10 percent. Previously, even the Supreme Labor Council had stipulated that the increase should be at least 38 percent.
Abdolmaleki also happens to be a member of the board of the nationwide Social Security Investment Company. Since his appointment last year he had also made a number of statements statements regarded by many to be unprofessional, such as: "A job can be created on one million tomans [US$30.65], and now, despite the passage of several years, it is still possible to create a job on one million tomans."
Iranian government spokesman Ali Bahadori Jahromi claimed on Tuesday that despite previous denials by his aies, Abdolmaleki had tried to resign once before.
The acting Minister of Labor, he added, is Mohammad Hadi Zahedi Vafa: previously the economic deputy of first vice president Mohammad Mokhber, and deputy minister of economy under Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Before that, he was a faculty member at Imam Sadegh University and former deputy at the Imam Khomeini Relief Committee.