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Strikes In Iran's Oil Sector Continue And Expand To Other Industries

Pars Petrochemical's workers on strike strike. August 2, 2020
Pars Petrochemical's workers on strike strike. August 2, 2020

Workers in various industrial sectors in Iran, including oil, gas and petrochemical industries, continued their strikes on Sunday and Monday, amid worsening economic condition and high inflation.

According to reports published on social networks and unofficial trade unions, the workers at several refineries and petrochemical companies in the provinces of Khuzestan, Bushehr, Hormozgan, and Fars entered their second day of the strike.

Workers at Abadan, Parsian and Qeshm refineries, as well as Lamerd Petrochemical and phases 22 and 24 of South Pars gas fields started their strikes on Saturday. However, reports say the workers at Fujaireh, Kangan, and Pars Petrochemical refineries have also gone on strike on Sunday. Furthermore, workers in phase 14 of South Pars have joined the action.

Strikes continued on Monday, August 3 at the Kangan refinery and Parsian oil production complex.

The protesting workers demand their overdue wages and improved working conditions and reduced working hours in the heat of 50 degrees Celsius (122 Fahrenheit) in southern parts of Iran.

Less than a week ago, Ebrahim Arabzadeh, a petrochemical worker in Mahshahr, died of heatstroke. Another worker in the Yadavaran Hoveyzeh oil field, Emran Roshani Moqaddam, committed suicide on June 12 to protest overdue wages.

Based on the footage and video reports circulating on social networks, the striking workers, most of whom are contract workers, have assembled peacefully at their workplaces or dormitories.

The state-run Iran Labor News Agency, ILNA, also reported that about 200 workers at Heavy Equipment Production Company (HEPCO), gathered for the second consecutive day on Sunday, at the company premises, in the central city of Arak.

Workers at HEPCO are protesting "confusion and uncertainty over their job description and a sharp drop in the production capacity of their plant.

Like several other industrial complexes before the downfall of the pro-West King Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and establishment of the Islamic Republic (1979), HEPCO was a lucrative conglomerate. It was established and registered in 1972, with the intention of assembly & production of heavy equipment.

HEPCO was privatized in 2017. Labor rights activists say that immediately following the privatization problems emerged for workers. The new owners started to delay wages and mismanage the complex.

The company is said to be operating at only 5 to 10 percent of its capacity today.

In many cases, the Islamic Republic has responded to workers' protests by detaining them. Several labor activists have so far faced harsh judicial sentences, including in connection with the labor unrest at Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Industrial Complex.