Workers strike at Iranian petrochemical complex

More than 6000 workers at the petrochemical complex in Mahshahr City in Khuzestan province struck for 10 days from September 25, demanding an end to individual contracts and abolition of all subcontracts at the complex.

The complex is state-owned. The vast majority of workers are hired through subcontractors and small companies. All are temporary, without the benefits of permanent workers. The workers had struck for 11 days in March for the same demands. Zarifkar Zarifkar, the company’s CEO, had previously promised to meet the workers’ demands by mid-September, if the workers ended their earlier strike, but failed to do so.

According to the Free Trade Union of Iran, all workers from different shifts at the complex assembled outside its main administration office on September 25, chanting: “We will continue the strike till our demands take place! Zarifkar Zarifkar, the false promises are enough! Benefits are our right!”

Workers from Imam Khomeini Port in Mahshar City participated in a joint rally with the petrochemical workers on September 26. On October 1, the state security forces arrested three striking workers — Mansoor Abbasi, Mohammad Bagher Bagheri and Jassim Badran. They were released the next day but their employment cards have been taken away. Currently these three workers are not working and cannot provide food for their families.

According to Fatah Bayat, the head  of the contract workers’ union, more than 85% of all Iranian workers are employed on individual contracts. If the workers at the Mahshahr City petrochemical complex are able to abolish individual contracts and establish the right to collective bargaining, it would be a victory for all Iranian workers.