According to latest reports, employees and contract workers of the Oil, Gas and Petrochemical Company in southern Iran have stopped working today [Saturday 1 August] and are on strike until when their demands are met. This action is in protest against their dire conditions – of poverty, deprivation, wage arrears, and poor housing – and management’s disregard of the contract workers’ demands.
Contract workers have stopped working or stayed in their dormitories or are gathering in front of the headquarters of the companies at all of the following: the Parsian Sepehr Lamerd Refinery, the Elixir Sanat Company in Tonbak Wharf, the Sina Sanat Company in The Pars Phenol Petrochemical Complex, the Azran Gostar Company and the Avijeh Sanat Company in the Qeshm Heavy Oil Refinery, the Urmia Combined Cycle, the Sabalan Petrochemical Company, the Tanavob Company, the Mahshahr Petrohamgam Company, the Bouali Petrochemical Company, the Hengam Petrochemical Company, and the Abadan Refinery of the LGC Company.
This is happening while exceptionally high temperatures have reached 60 degrees in the oilfields.[“Contract or Project workers” in Iran describe workers who do not have a permanent contract of employment and the length of their employment in a workplace is fixed. These workers are itinerant, travelling from workshop to workshop and from city to city in the oilfields to work. This segment of the labour force has neither employment support nor security and is highly exposed to unemployment as the economic conditions decline.]
According to news published in Iranian trade unions’ bulletins, workers are demanding their just wages, decent sleeping quarters (dormitories), hygienic bathrooms and, most importantly, on-time payment of their wages, which are delayed for months, and insurance cover policies which match their job specifications and not those of unskilled workers. Prior to the strike, they had submitted their pay demands to the employers for implementation. The workers have vowed not to return to work until their demands are met. At the same time, the official ILNA news agency quoted a manager from the Qeshm Heavy Oil refinery refuting the claims of non-payment of wages. According to this management representative, “Workers demands are solely for a pay rise and there are no wage arrears. Workers had, of course, reached an agreement with the management over their salaries but are now claiming that they should have another pay rise”.
The start of these widespread strikes in the sensitive oil industry coincides with the strike action of workers of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Agro-industrial Complex which, despite threats and pressures from the security and judiciary forces, has been solid since 12 June. Fifty days after the start of the strike, not only does the reactionary Rouhani government ignore their demands, but the judiciary and security forces intend to quell the voice of thousands of Haft Tappeh sugarcane workers by making arrests and setting up unfair trials and courts in which to try them.
Among the demands of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Complex workers are receipt of three months’ salary arrears, the extension of their social security entitlement booklets, and clarification of the situation regarding the uncertainty of their employment status. The workers of Haft Tappeh also demand the return of the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Complex to the public sector, the reinstatement of the sacked workers, and the release of the arrested workers.
All progressive and freedom loving forces of the country should use all their power to defend and support the growing struggle of workers across Iran, linking them to the widespread social protests against the regime’s unpopular policies, the severe economic crisis and the escalation of poverty and deprivation of large sections of people of our homeland.
It is only through this common struggle that the dictatorial and unpopular regime can be forced to retreat and surrender to the demands of the workers and toilers.
The Tudeh Party of Iran
1 August 2020