Tuesday , 28 June 2022

Backlash in Iran as some wartime veterans circumvent new retirement law

Al-Monitor – Iran’s important new retirement law, approved by the powerful Guardian Council enacted by the country’s parliament, could effectively put an end to the decades-long practice of the re-employment of some government workers upon their retirement. In many cases government workers have their contracts extended once they reach retirement age, while occasionally retired workers are invited back to their positions.

While it has been widely welcomed as a crucial step toward improving the government institutions’ efficiency, an exemption in the law is creating controversy. It stipulates that some officials wounded in action (mostly from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War) could retain their positions even after the official retirement age. Injured veterans are categorized by the extent of their permanent injuries, and the new law exempts those disabled by 50%.

The loophole has reportedly tempted a number of senior staff within the civil service who are close to retirement to try to circumvent the law. They approach officials at the Foundation of Martyrs and Veterans Affairs to have their injuries upgraded to enjoy the exemption and keep their seats.

Pro-reform daily Ghanoon described those lining up to dodge the law as “pseudo-war veterans.” Hossein Nowruzi, an Iranian parliamentarian who chairs the body’s war veterans faction, told the paper that lawmakers will conduct a probe if they find out that the new regulations are being misused. “Everyone knows that a war veteran with injuries beyond 50% and already at the age of retirement is not fit to [continue working],” he said, noting that the exemption was only a courtesy out of respect for combat veterans.

Some have called for further consideration. “The new regulations need to be amended and all exemptions removed because there is no religious and legal explanation to justify them,” lawyer Ali Akbar Gorji told the semi-official ISNA news agency. “The law violates the rights of the youth who could take up those jobs,” he said.

Exemptions have always been headaches,” reported Aftab, another Reformist daily, commenting that some individuals’ efforts to circumvent the law have been “unpleasant and unacceptable” to society.

Reacting on Twitter, Hesamoddin Ashna — a top adviser to President Hassan Rouhani — criticized the war injuries ranking system, saying he was not surprised to see “VIP war veterans” queueing to change their status.

One tweet expressed doubt about the categorization of war injuries, showing one senior employee kicking a soccer ball despite his 52% disabled status.

“Those officials who are pushing to have their war injury levels upgraded should be ashamed,” wrote another user, lashing out at the government for neglecting the war veterans who are struggling to meet their everyday medical costs.