A strike at the Imam Khomeini port in the oil rich province of Khuzestan began on September 24th, and workers are continuing to maintain picket lines and hold rallies. This is just one of many strikes taking place across the country and involving over six and a half thousand petrochemical workers.
According to official government figures, there has been a 5% percent fall in the country’s petrochemical production in recent months, a factor that has increased economic pressure on the industry’s workforce.
The strikers want to be employed directly by the government, instead of by subcontractors and other private firms that currently act as a buffer between them and the industry’s management. They have also called for an increase in salaries and bonuses. So far three workers’ representatives have been arrested, leading to angry condemnation of the government from their fellows. When management threatened to sack workers who refused to go back to work, strikers reacted by setting up a crisis committee in order to ensure a swift response should such threats be carried out.
This strike differs from previous industrial action in that it is concerned, not just with economic demands, but also with political ones, such as establishing the right to strike. It would seem that the Iranian working class is no longer on the defensive.