Iran: A New Wave of Strikes and Workers’ Protests and the Need for Workers’ Solidarity

A Communiqué by ‘Internationalist Voice’ (August 3, 2020)

The following communiqué provides a first time account of the acutely revived workers’ combativity in Iran, despite the corona-virus pandemic hitting the country hard, and the omnipresent state repression and political maneuvering by the local regime. For the first time in recent years, the workers in the oil- and gas industry are massively implied. The communiqué is followed by a brief commentary from ‘Arbeidersstemmen’. We hope to provide more details and analysis on the present struggles in due time.

Peripheral capitalism – in crisis – with its ugly face, has created a miserable situation for wage slaves and the lower strata of society. The corona pandemic, the escalation of sanctions and the global crisis of capitalism have made economic and social conditions even more difficult than they were before for the working class. Under these circumstances, the working class and lower strata of society live below the poverty line and struggle to survive. In such circumstances, the struggle of the working class is of particular importance. The spread of labor strikes and protests against the oil and petrochemical industries doubles the importance of this struggle.

Since late spring, despite the corona pandemic, we have seen a new wave of labor strikes and protests – the most widespread wave of strikes and workers’ protests since the defeat of the glorious workers’ protests in the autumn of 2018. The Haft Tappeh workers’ strike has entered its 50th day, and Hepco workers have started a new round of protests. While the bourgeoisie tries to exhaust the workers of Haft Tappeh, workers’ protests and strikes have spread to the oil industry. The first of these, the strike by workers and employees of the North Azadegan oil field, in protest against low wage levels, began on 29 July 2020. But the strike spread to different cities and sectors in the oil and petrochemical industries from Saturday 1 August 2020. Workers and employees of Abadan refinery, Qeshm heavy oil refinery, Parsian refinery, Lamerd petrochemical, and phases 22 and 24 of South Pars etc. went on strike. Strikers in the oil industry are demanding timely payment of wages, cancellation of contracts with contractors, wage increases and, in particular, cancellation of temporary contracts and improved working conditions etc.

In recent decades, the Islamic bourgeoisie has pursued a policy of destroying the union of workers in one of the key industries by handing over various sectors of the oil industry to contractors and creating multiple employers. The contracting of companies plays a major role in concluding what effectively constitute slave contracts with no job security and few benefits, and over the last decade, a large proportion of oil and gas workers have been contracted. In recent years, the industrial proletariat has been involved in workers’ protests and strikes. Trade unions and syndicalists under no illusions in Iran, but the disintegration of workers’ protests and strikes and the lack of coordination between workers’ protests have been one of the main weaknesses of workers’ protests. In various regions, attempts have been made to coordinate protests and strikes in the oil and petrochemical industries – the first by workers in the oil and petrochemical industries since the workers’ protests between 1978 and 1980 – and this issue is of particular importance. As workers’ protests have spread, in addition to showing class solidarity, workers have gained more power and paved the way for evolution of the class struggle to a higher level.

Chained workers!

Workers can maintain their solidarity through protests, resolute in their defense of the working class. We can only rely on our class power in our protests. Only by staying true to our class roots will we be able to repel the attacks of the bourgeoisie. Unlike anti-regime and anti-dictatorship protests, workers’ protests, because of their anti-capitalist nature, can not only spread to other capitalist countries but also challenge the capitalist state in the process.

Workers’ protests and strikes will gain ground!

[Forward], strike committees!

Internationalist Voice, August 3, 2020.



A Commentary by ‘Arbeidersstemmen’ (August 5, 2020)

Now that the workers in Iran have embarked on a new wave of struggle, we maintain our objections to Internationalist Voice’s analysis on the following points:

  • The term ‘peripheral’ capitalism has been superseded by the economic and military strategic importance of the Middle East as an energy supplier, by the relocation of industry from West to East and South and the emergence of an industrial working class there, plus a gigantic increase in wage-earners who can no longer be included in production.
  • Not only working workers belong to the working class, but also the unemployed, often younger proletarians, who have only the street as their field of action and who clash with the state there.

Now, for the first time since the fall of the Shah regime and the coming to power of the Ayatollahs, the sectors of oil extraction and chemicals are also involved in the workers’ struggle. This brings a confrontation with the state closer (as Internationalist Voice states). Now it is very important that the striking workers win over the unemployed young people by involving them in the mass meetings in the companies and on the streets. In this way, the fighting unity of the working class can gain the upper hand over the middle classes, who will only fight for another change of regime. A united working class can lead the middle classes in what will be the beginning of a proletarian revolution that again will shake world capitalism to its foundations.

Arbeidersstemmen, August 5, 2020.

Source:  Iran: golf van protesten en stakingen bereikt de olie-industrie