Reprinted from Hekmatist.com
Workers at gas, petrochemical and oil refineries have gone on strike across Iran over pay and conditions, health and safety, and social welfare. This is a national strike in a sector that the Islamic Republic has officially categorized as one where workers are forbidden to have their own organizations!
Over the past four decades, the Islamic Republic has broken the structure of this sector, and set up a range of different companies, under several holdings. Through this process, large sections of workers were made redundant, leaving these companies and their agencies to recruit workers again with making majority of them as “contract”, “temporary”, “agency”, “un-official” employees. Every effort was made to break the rank of these tens of thousands of workers and spread disparity and competition amongst them. In addition, a frenzy media propaganda was orchestrated to spread such rumour as these workers are much better paid than any other sector in order to drive a wedge between them and the rest of the working class in Iran. Additionally, some sections have been located in the so-called “special zones” where workers at these zones are literally segregated to avoid any possible disruptions to for example oil extraction and in the shipping ports. The conditions in extraction sections are so harsh that workers generally have much shorter life expectancy, and are always in danger of immediate death due to poisonous fumes and gases.
Despite all the efforts of the Islamic Republic to divide them, oil workers have formed their own strike organising committees and have organised a co-ordinated strike action which has spread across the whole sector. At each section, workers have expressed their solidarity and unity with their fellow workers and have together stated a range of demands including an end to all agency structures, a uniform minimum basic pay with automatic rise inline with the increase in cost of living, a complete ban on any sackings or redundancies, and a 20-day working month, as well as adequate social welfare for all. In their immediate response, the Islamic Republic threatened workers and has issuing “final notice” letters to 700 workers at Tehran oil refinery! The strike action, however, is escalating with support and solidarity actions taking place in other sectors.
Given the total defeat of the Islamic Republic’s circus of “elections” on 18 June, when voting booths were left deserted, the general mood across Iran is one of triumph of people against the entire ruling establishment. In the face of such a major defeat, the entire ruling body is in a much weaker position in the balance of forces across the country. Presently despite the harsh crackdowns by the security forces and Covid-19, hundreds of industrial actions are taking place annually across Iran. In such circumstnces, the united strike action of the oil workers is particularly significant. This is not only because of their industrial muscle, but also because of the role that oil workers played in the 1979 uprising when the popular slogan of “Our oil workers, our resolute leaders” echoed throughout the country.
The speed of change in the political and social landscape in Iran is staggering. Workers and an overwhelming majority of the population are showing their power against one of the most oppressive and brutal states. This is a change that is welcomed by all those opposing the entire Islamic Republic and seeking a world rid of this state and its rule in Iran. This is an instance, a glimpse of a mighty force that wants freedom, equality and workers’ state. In this path, workers in Iran are rightfully looking towards fellow workers, unions, and all workers’ organisations and progressive bodies internationally for support and solidarity.
Hekmatist Party (Official Line) – Organisation Abroad
24 June, 2021
The reactionary religious regime in Iran is in crisis. While US capitalism opposes that regime, it no more supports a workers struggle to bring it down than it supports a workers struggle anywhere else in the world, including here at home. Socialists should oppose the US sanctions on Iran and also support the workers’ struggles inside Iran.
We should remember that when Trump ran for president in 2016, he did so partly based on Islamophobia. This included demagogically raising fears of the Iranian regime. In other words, he used the reactionary Iranian regime as a foil in a way similar to how US capitalism used the Red Scare during the Cold War. It is similar with the racist state of Israel. It would be similar with the ruling class in Saudi Arabia. It would also transform the situation in Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
A workers movement that brought down the Iranian government would be a major blow to the ruling parties in Israel as well as to Islamaphobes the world over. Most important, it would play a huge role in weakening the sectarian Sunni-Shia divide within the Islamic communities globally. It would have the potential for opening up a second and even more powerful and more working class oriented wave of the Arab Spring.
We urge socialists and unionists to get resolutions of support for the oil workers and other striking workers in Iran. In the coming days, we will be publishing suggestions of resolutions as well as online addresses where they can be sent. We will also be publishing a statement of support for individuals to sign.