Iranian oil sector strikes could end the regime

Workers’ strikes for economic demands have hit Iran’s vital petrochemical and oil industries over the past week, prompting an expert to comment that the regime’s fall could start with social unrest.

“Strikes and localized protests are more common than most realize. Usually they end on their own. But when the collapse of the Islamic Republic begins, it will probably start here, ”tweeted Norman Roule, who served 34 years at the Central Intelligence Agency and oversaw programs in the Middle East.

The main economic demands of the workers are wage increases, reduced working days and the end of temporary contracts.

Twitter was abuzz with images and videos of Iranian employees involved in work stoppages. According to the London-based Iran International news organization, the workers launched their campaign with the slogans “We will not give up our rights” and “Strike Campaign 1400”, a reference to the current Iranian calendar year 1400.

Iran International reported that industrial workers from Jahan Pars, Gachsaran Petrochemicals, Tehran Refinery, Abadan Refinery, as well as other factories, participated in the strike.

Iran has for months faced almost continuous protests from workers and retirees against an inflation rate of over 50%, high unemployment and unpaid wages.
An unknown number of workers on temporary contracts “stayed home” to demand higher wages earlier this week in Asaluyeh, Iran’s main gas production center in the Gulf, the news agency reported Iranian Labor Force (ILNA) controlled by the regime.

“Since we learned about the union actions and their demands for wages and benefits … the problems are being seriously followed in [the parliament’s] Energy Commission, ”Mousa Ahmadi, a lawmaker whose district includes Asaluyeh, told ILNA. According to rights groups and social media posts, the Tehran refinery sacked 700 strikers. A social media video showed workers at the refinery holding up what appeared to be layoff notices.

Shaker Khafai, spokesman for Tehran’s state-owned oil refining company, denied workers were fired and said a subcontractor fired 35 workers, reported the IRNA news agency, controlled by the system of government.

The mullahs’ regime in Tehran bans all independent trade union activity.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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