The strike by the workers of Iran’s oil and petrochemical industries has spread to various cities, despite 700 workers at the Tehran refinery being fired.
On June 23rd workers in many refineries and petrochemical industries joined the strikers who had already been on strike for two days. It is estimated that there are now around 20,000 oil and petrochemical workers on strike across 11 provinces. Many workers from various industrial centres have joined the ‘1400 Campaign’* – demanding higher wages, an increase in leave and holidays by 10 days, better health and safety conditions (especially with the outbreak of the Corona pandemic). These are longstanding demands that have been ignored by management and the Iranian regime’s authorities.
In response, however, the regime stepped up its repression against the workers. According to labour activists, 700 workers were fired on June 22nd after the Tehran refinery ‘overhaul’ workers’ strike. Instead of a pay rise, the workers were fired and given ‘settlement slips’.
Workers from many centres, including the Mahshahr port of the Southern Oil Company, Assaluyeh, the Damavand petrochemical project, Kayhan Pars in Esfahan, Esfahan oil refinery, contract workers at the Abadan refinery, and workers at the Adish refinery have joined the campaign. Workers at the Kangan Phase 13 power plant also walked off the job.
The Council for Organising Protests of Oil Contract Workers is co-ordinating these strikes and protests. One of the workers’ main demands is that contractors be removed from all oil companies and that the labour law be applied equally – with equal wages – in all refineries, petrochemical plants and oil and gas industries. The workers also demand that their wages be increased to more than 12 million tomans ($2855) and workplace safety be improved.
The Oil Workers’ Protest Organising Council has announced that if the authorities do not respond to the workers’ demands, the strike will continue and they will join the protest of the official oil workers, which is scheduled to begin on July 1st.
On June 23rd workers of the National Iranian Oil Company held protest rallies in Abadan, Ahvaz, Mahshahr and Assaluyeh. The rallies followed a call by the oil company’s official workers. The official workers of the oil company demanded the “accurate and fair implementation of the law of increase of wages for [the year] 1400 and the implementation of article 10 of the law of authority of the Oil Ministry”.
Amendments to the income tax law for workers working in difficult conditions and full payment of retirement bonuses based on years of service without a 30-year bonus ceiling are among the other demands of these workers.
Last summer, workers at the Qeshm Heavy Oil Company went on strike outside the company building demanding their unpaid wages. At the same time, strikes were launched in Abadan, Parsian, Lamerd Petrochemical, South Pars and North Azadegan oil refineries to pay wages and arrears and to implement the job classification scheme immediately.
Already on June 23rd, a number of trade unions, including the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Union and the Tehran Vahed Bus Company Workers’ Union, also expressed their solidarity with the oil workers in statements. The Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign calls on trade unionists, labour activists and socialists everywhere to support this important development in the Iranian workers’ movement.
* 1400 is the current Iranian year.
Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign
25 June 2021
Source: Various news agencies.