Following two strikes last year, Iran’s contract oil workers threatened to strike again in March 2021 if Iranian regime officials did not meet their demands. Now the second phase of strikes began, as a result of the government’s inaction and has lasted for the past seven months, with a wider reach than before.
Protests have taken place in 114 places around Iran
Protests have taken place in 114 places around Iran during the most recent round of strikes, involving tens of thousands of workers. 40% of the workforce are still on strike as of October 2021.
“They [the Iranian workers] started a campaign known as 10-20, which meant they would work for twenty days and have ten days paid leave and be considered official workers,” according to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
Former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as well as other regime officials, warned that rejecting the workers’ demands will have “unfavourable consequences.”
Iranian workforce and young to join the strikes
Maryam Rajavi, the NCRI’s President-elect, urged the Iranian workforce and young to join the strikes in their fight. “Repression and expulsion will exacerbate workers’ and labourers’ anger at the regime’s anti-labour and inhumane policies, and will strengthen the public’s resolve to overthrow the regime and restore freedom and justice,” she said.
The 10-20 campaign, which advocates for 10 days off for every 20 days worked, is one of the demands. Because many professionals live a long distance from their workplace, the commute home and back leaves them with few days off.
Other demands include double wages at all levels, salaries of at least 12 million Tomans, job security with formal contracts, the reinstatement of workers fired during the strikes, and appeals for regime leaders to address the inhumane conditions at the worker camps.
Severely short in basic amenities
Concerning the last need, the camps where the labourers stay during their shift days of work are severely short in basic amenities. There is no heating or cooling equipment, no dining facilities, hardly enough space for the workers to sleep, and only three bathrooms in a dormitory for 100 people. In addition to the difficulties in the camp, the workers’ salaries are frequently delayed, adding to their frustration.
“The regime has appointed managers at Iran’s Oil Company who deny workers their basic rights,” the NCRI claimed. “The government has officially announced that workers should deal with their managers and the contracting companies, not the government. As such it’s refusing to claim responsibility.”
Bribe workers numerous times
The Iranian dictatorship has attempted to coerce or bribe workers numerous times in order to terminate the strikes. So far, almost 60% of the workers have returned to work, where they are confronted with the same concerns that drove them to strike in the first place, as well as increased pressures from their employers and continual threats of termination.
Because Iran’s economy is based on oil, the strikes posed a threat to the regime, as the longer, they lasted, the more the economy would be harmed. In November 1978, 37,000 oil refinery workers in Iran went on strike, lowering production from 6 million to 1.5 million barrels per day. As a result, the economy collapsed, resulting in an increase in global fuel prices.
“The Iranian regime’s oil exports are under sanctions, significantly reducing Iran’s oil export revenue,” the NCRI stated. “The oil workers’ strike may restrict the regime’s revenue even further, which the mullahs need to fund their warmongering machine and continue abusing the Iranian people.”