Thursday, 1 July 2021 -
Iran’s workers in the country’s expansive Oil and Petrochemical Sectors have announced a nationwide strike, ten days since protesters first took the southern streets. The organizing council said that if their demands for a pay rise and improved working conditions in the oil and refinery facilities aren’t met, more workers are expected to join the thousands who are already on a hiatus or have left their refinery plants altogether.
As reported by Iranian media this week, workers from most plants and refineries, predominantly in southern and central Iran, have joined the protests. Although most regular government employees (who are on full benefits and enjoy job security under labour laws) have largely remained on duty.
The striking employees are essential to Iran’s fuel and petrochemical sectors. As such, the widespread demonstrations simply underscore the mounting economic load on Iran. This happens as the country remains optimistic the U.S and other European powers will lift the crippling sanctions imposed on Tehran.
Thousands of workers have gone on strike in the past week demanding better wages and working conditions at the oil facilities, Iranian media reported Wednesday. The organizing council has reiterated that workers should get a pay rise if they are to keep up with Iran’s skyrocketing inflation, which has peaked at records of 50%.
Video footage has appeared on social media showing workers walking off duty in protest. Some honked their cars, while others cheered as they walked the southern dusty roads on their way from the refineries.
Currently, workers in Iran's vast energy sector receive between $200 and $300 per month but are now demanding more than $400, alongside other benefits. The workers' strike is being championed under the hashtag "Campaign 1400," which coincides with the year 1400 in Iran's calendar.
What Officials from The Islamic Republic Have Said
The outgoing Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, speaking to the cabinet, vowed to resolve the grievances of all workers in the oil sector, even as experts predict a severe economic reverberation. Rouhani said the strike was mainly limited to temporary contractors and private construction workers, and the strike is unlikely to hurt Iran's oil production.
He pointed to the National Iranian Oil Company, where no workers have gone on strike yet. The over 200,000 workers in the state-owned corporation are, however, on wages three times high, entitled to job security, and are protected under the country's labour law. And Rouhani insisted that Iran wouldn't have any problems in the production, transfer, or exportation of oil.
The striking workers are pushing to be at par with their counterparts in the state-run oil company, and Rouhani promised Wednesday that all their grievances will be solved. Elsewhere, the Islamic Republic has asked workers to cease their strike, and promised to take a review into their demands in the coming weeks.
Tehran’s Nuclear Debacle
Iran runs on its oil sector as the primary lifeblood of the economy. However, the sector has been devastated by the sanctions from Washington over Tehran’s nuclear push. The sanctions were imposed on Iran by former U.S President Donald Trump, and have clobbered Iran's economy by slashing oil exports.
(Written and edited by: The Decision Maker team)