Second statement of the Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers – Iran
We, the contract oil workers in refineries, petrochemical and power plants, went on strike on June 20, as we had announced. Tens of thousands of our colleagues are currently on strike, and our colleagues who are permanent employees in the oil industry will gather in July.
Meanwhile, during the same period, we have gained support from workers in phases (districts?)10 to 14 of Assaluyeh. So far, we are doing well and we welcome all our colleagues.
Friends, the oil workers’ central demand, both in the formal sector and the contract sector, is wage increases. We workers no longer tolerate poverty, insecurity, discrimination and inequality and deprivation of basic human rights. As we have stated, as a result of staggering price rises, no workers’ wages should be less than twelve million tomans. At the same time, our colleagues have the right to demand salary increases in accordance with their levels of work expertise. Our colleagues who are permanent employees of the oil industry are also protesting against the daily decrease in their purchasing power and the state of their wages in 1400 (2021-2022), which is in fact an attack on their lives and livelihood.
Dear colleagues! Our unity in struggle and the fact that so many have joined the strike makes us very proud and we express our thanks to everyone. However we must try to consolidate this alliance in advancing our protests.
We must prevent any kind of division and intrigue by doing our utmost to advance the struggle. We should continue making collective decisions; we can’t leave the struggle to a few individuals who are announcing campaigns in our defence here and there, and allow them to make all the decisions. Rather, by being present and staying in workers’ dormitories and planning protest rallies in front of refineries and oil centres, or by actively participating in the groups we have on social media, we should be actively involved every day in deciding how to advance our struggle.
This is an important lesson that we have learned from the Haft Tappeh sugarcane workers, and we must know that only in this way, and through council and collective decision-making, can we prevent possible divisions and clashes imposed from above. Do not let them lead us with promises, and as we have warned, if our demands are not answered by the end of next month, we must prepare to continue wider protests.
Dear colleagues! During the last few days of strike, some of our colleagues left their workplace and returned home, but some of us have remained in workers’ dormitories. The reason is that we want to pursue our demands with maximum presence. Ruthless employers are firing day labourers and preparing to hire new workers. Therefore, if we stay in the dormitories, the employer will not have a place to house the new workforce. At the same time, with our presence, he will not dare to fire us and carry out such conspiracies. From this day on, our recommendation is to return to work after a week of visiting the family and to be present at the work place and continue our strike. Our daily presence in front of petrochemical plants, refineries and power plants is putting more pressure on the employer and helping us pursue our demands.
A number of colleagues, day contract workers in the Tehran refinery have been arrested. We must call for their release and the right of 700 workers, sacked because of the strike, to return to work.
Our strike is nationwide and we must respond to any attacks with a united front.
In addition to the increase in wages, we are asking for ten days of leave for twenty days of work, so that we can visit our families and get away from these deplorable conditions.
In addition, we contract workers need job security. Currently we have no security, despite our health and lives being in constant danger through working in hazardous environments.
The living conditions in the workers’ dormitories are terrible and there is no adherence to basic health and safety rules in the workplace. The laws governing special economic zones (where some oil refineries and exploration fields are) only serve the interests of the worst kind of capitalist bullies, to ensure their total dominance over workers. We demand a curtailing of the contractors’ unlimited power and permanent contracts for all workers: we are calling for the abolition of special economic laws governing these zones, which pave the way for imposition of severe military-style security measures in the oil fields.
Finally we want to address the Iranian people. Our thanks to fellow workers, our comrades at Haft Tappeh Sugarcane plant as well as teachers’ unions, associations of retired employees and student organisations, who have so far supported us with their statements. Have no doubt that this solidarity gives strength to us oil workers.
The demand for wage increases is not just a demand put forward by oil workers, we know that all workers, teachers, retirees and wage earners have the same demand. Therefore we expect the support and encouragement of fellow workers. Please protest against the dismissal of seven hundred of our fellow workers and demand their return to work.
Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers
Translated /distributed by HOPI