Page last updated at 20:57 GMT, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 21:57 UK

Marry or lose job, says Iran firm

Iranian couple in Tehran - file photo
Many young Iranians are having difficulty affording getting married

Single workers at one of Iran's major state-owned companies have been told to marry by September or face being fired, Iranian newspapers have reported.

The Pars Special Economic Energy Zone Company employs thousands of people, mostly young men, on Iran's Gulf coast.

Being married is a job requirement, a directive from the company is reported as saying.

Correspondents say the ruling appears to be an attempt to reduce the number

of prostitutes working in the area.

The company controls Iran's large network of gas and petrochemical facilities around the coastal city of Assalouyeh on the Gulf coast.

Its directive, according to the Etemad newspaper, says that despite requests "some of our colleagues did not fulfil their commitments and are still single".

It continues: "As being married is one of the criteria of employment, we are announcing for the last time that all the female and male colleagues have until September 21 to go ahead with this important and moral religious duty."

In the same vein, the governor of the eastern province of North Khorasan ruled recently that only married people would be hired for official posts in the region.

Economic difficulties in Iran have led many people to postpone getting married, despite sexual relations being illegal outside marriage.

Here are a selection of your comments on this story:

Zdenek, if you are working and living in Berlin you should seek German legal advice I am sure that even if the company is Iranian they do not have the right under German employment law to fire you because you are not planning to get married -they might however find another reason which they will use as an excuse if you don't comply so you'll have to tread carefully. Honestly though, I know jobs in Berlin are hard to come by, but do you really want to work for such a company that interferes with your personal life - it's like working for the Stasi!! I think especially in Berlin we have worked hard enough to regain our personal freedom don't give it up again just for a job! Good luck
anon, Germany

I am an Iranian, working in Iran. My company told me I had to get married or else I would get fired. They gave me 6 months, and in that time I eventually found someone. I married a girl, whom I met through family. She wasn't the person I dreamt of spending my life together with, but it had to be done. However, another 6 months after my marriage, I got the sack. So was it worth it? NO! I'm also having trouble with my marriage at the moment!

Abbas, Tehran, Iran

Zdenek, go see a lawyer - Germany has one of the most highly-developed employee protection systems. A simple letter from a lawyer will soon see your employers run for cover :))
Bill Beetham, Moscow, Russia

If you work in Germany you should have redress under the European equality laws which do not allow discrimination based on family status. That is certainly the case in other EU countries. You should check your position with a legal advisor.
YSE, Dublin, Ireland

To Zdenek Smetanka my advice is to seek legal advice I cannot believe German labour laws will allow an employer to make such a request, I'd suggest asking a local German trade union or failing that a local government office.
John, England

This is the kind of society you live in when the government is dictated by a theocratic state. In a sense, marriage by decree is even worse than street prostitution, because it is less honest, more permanent, and can be just as debilitating to a woman in an unwanted marriage. A Western person can quit their job and find another, but Iranians cannot escape their government unless they leave. My sincere sympathy for the young people of Iran.
Kat, Washington, D.C.

I'm not an Iranian, BUT it is a welcome development. When someone is married, he or she tends to become more focused and responsible.

To Zdenek Smetanka, Berlin - you are very lucky, as you are covered by German employment law which makes such a discriminatory action completely illegal. As soon as you get either a copy of this "order" on paper, or get a copy of your dismissal notice, take it straight to your local Arbeitsamt who will help you. You can expect them to contact the company to inform them they are acting illegally and demand they drop the policy (As well as probably prosecuting/fining the company), and if they continue with the policy regardless and still force you out, the German courts will make you a wealthy man. Germany has some of the strongest employment laws in the world protecting its employees.
Mark, Zürich, Switzerland

I have seen a copy of the directive on one of Persian websites. I was shocked when I read this directive. How far can a Government go for interfering into the personal lives of its nation. Not to worry, they are not afraid to do whatever required to send you to heaven!
Sasan, Dubai, UAE

Zdenek Smetanka, with all due respect, such so-called Muslim employers should provide a girl to marry as well as part of a package for single employees taking on the job. The shame is that such people are called Muslims first and then Iranians. Most of the problems are created by cultures, not religions. Almost all of the religions preach peace, not terror.
A. Ahmed, Manchester, UK

It's a good sign but it would be better if a state owned corporation increase some good will compensation to there employees. I wonder why such radical Islamic state has forgotten the Allah's message stated as "Thy Lord is taking care of food etc to its thy belivers". Apart from that Iran should consider more option towards stabilizing their economy.
Zeeshan Haq, Karachi, Pakistan

I am in the US, and for a long time I felt quite a bit of pressure to get married. I have no intention of ever getting married, and if my job were tied to it, I would find another job. The state has no business dictating morality or personal choices like marriage. Then again, this IS Iran, and the people are subject to the whims of their government, which does not appear to care in the least for the freedoms of its citizens. Not to worry, the United States is not far behind. When the legislation of morality is debated in the guise of an amendment to define marriage, you know we are going down that same road.
Mark, Newburgh, NY

I am employed in Iranian company in Berlin and they told me to get married or they fire me. I am not Muslim I come from Czech republic. I have one month to get married although i have no girlfriend. What am I to do? Please help help.
Zdenek Smetanka, Berlin

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