As Iranian authorities continue their costly foreign policies and unveil new ballistic and cruise missiles and weaponry,
Iranian workers struggle for their undeniable rights in recent weeks. In this respect, workers in different areas have launched strikes and openly announced that they won’t give in before achieving all their demands.
Since August 1, thousands of oil employees and workers stopped working and staged protests against officials’ inattention to their dire living and working conditions. They also complained authorities about unequal paychecks and pensions as well as demanded their delayed salaries and bounties.
The Oil employees’ strike is considered a turning point in Iranian protests, amplified from last November’s nationwide protests. It is worth noting that the oil workers’ strike prior to the 1979 revolution shook the very pillars of the monarchic dictatorship. Following the oil employees’ strike, the then Prime-Minister Jafar Sharif Imami revealed that the regime’s revenue had decreased by $57 million per day.
Significantly, the current strike that started in a few refinery plants has been welcomed by many workers across the country. Today, this strike has engulfed over 50 refineries, petrochemical centers, and plants in at least 12 provinces, and is set to expand even further. According to the workers’ representatives, in the South Pars company alone, more than 15,000 workers from 36 branches have joined the strike during the past 20 days.
Furthermore, on the 20th day of the strike, 3,000 oil employees and workers of the IDC refinery plant in Dehloran, Ilam province, joined the strike. On the other hand, workers who returned to work with the promise of increasing the salary settled down and returned home after employers’ liability. They were assemblymen of Exsir Sanat Petrochemical products company.
Failure of Employers’ Attempts at Containing the Strike
Government-linked employers and contractors tried to counter the strike by recruiting new workers. It is worth noting that the regime’s mismanagement has left between 2.8 to 6 million people unemployed. However, these attempts failed because the employers could not hire the necessary skilled workers and unskilled workers were inflicting massive damages to the companies.
“Just think about the possible damages that an unskillful welder can impose on the company. Packages will stockpile due to their slow work. The company will yield skyrocketing expenditures of re-radiography and waste the time of inspectors, professional offices, and the whole workplace. Also, the company will irrationally be involved in repairing a few radiographic,” a worker reported.
“Or unskillful fitters sometimes make irreversible mistakes. Undoubtedly, if their mistakes do not cause casualties, they will destroy the raw material or valuable equipment that can no longer be imported,” the report added.
In this context, the campaign’s representatives say, “With a comparison between the work of a proficient fitter and an unskilled fitter, it would be far more profitable for the company to recruit a proficient fitter with a 130-million-rial salary per month rather than hiring three unskillful fitters with 60-million-rial per month.”
They also warned their coworkers about the government-linked employers’ deceitful tactics for returning workers to work. “Workers, we must be conscious and not be misled by rumors. Employers are going the distance to create divisions among workers. Do not insult those who have not joined us and kindly ask them to join the strike. The victory is on the horizon. We remain in our homes until our demands are realized,” the strike’s representatives wrote.
Additionally, workers of the Haft-Tappeh Sugarcane Company in the town of Shush in Khuzestan province are continuing their strike for nearly 70 days. They initially demanded authorities to put pressure on the company’s managing board to pay the workers’ delayed salaries and pensions. They also urged officials to detain company CEO Omid Assad-Beigi for his corrupt practices, as well as returning fired workers back to their jobs.
In response, the authorities literally took no action. All the while, the workers’ constant rallies and marches in front of the provincial governorate continued, eventually gaining the officials’ attention. Moreover, the workers’ representatives were threatened by Assad-Beigi’s agents, and their armed militia even opened fire on the home of a labor activist and left the scene of the crime without ever being held accountable. They also opened fire on the house of another activist and a representative of the protesting workers.
However, the Haft Tappeh workers are defiant and refusing to give in to disgrace, vowing to continue their strike until their demands are met. Employers also tried to deceive and divide the workers’ ranks by paying a small portion of their delayed salaries. In one such case, an employer suggested to a worker that he would increase his salaries ten times in return for his return to work. But the unified workers insisted on their undeniable rights despite the fact that neither the government nor officials do not care about their hardships.