As Protests Continue, Workers Strike in Iran

As the protest movement in Iran develops, we publish here a few more translations of recent statements from the Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers and the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate. Their decision to go on strike has inevitably been met with repression by the regime. Despite this, as they say themselves, they remain hopeful that workers "can play their historical role in directing and uniting the street protests, in order to herald emancipation from oppression and exploitation.”

We Give an Ultimatum

You are all aware that during our protest in solidarity with the popular uprising, a number of our fellow workers were arrested in Asaluyeh.
We announced that we will not give up and will continue our protest. Therefore, our fellow workers gathered in several places on the morning of Wednesday, 12 October, but not only were they arrested and not released, but a number of others were also arrested and now more than 30 of our fellow workers are under arrest (unfortunately, due to the numerous number of contractors and scattered workshops, the immediate preparation of the complete list of those arrested is taking time).
Meanwhile, the atmosphere in our work environment has become very police-dominated. We declare that the arrests and threats not only have no effect on our determination to continue our protest, but these repressions increase our anger a hundredfold.
In our first ultimatum on the 26 September, we announced that we would go on strike if the repressions are not stopped, and when we did not receive an answer, we stopped working and gathered in solidarity with the popular protests.
Now we give an ultimatum that if our fellow workers are not released immediately and if the force of repression is not removed from our workplace, we will continue our protests in wider forms and we will not remain silent.
Here, we ask our fellow workers across the oil industry to be united and not allow this repression and slavery to continue.
Likewise, our message to the people and all workers across Iran is do not leave us alone in this hellish work camp but support us. Put pressure on the immediate release of our fellow workers.
All the recent detainees must be released and these repressions should end.
Workers unite.

Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers, 13 October 2022

On the Arrests and Repressions

During the protests of our fellow workers, more than 250 people were arrested and their release is an important aspect of our campaign. According to the information obtained so far, during the protests of our fellow workers on the 10, 11 and 12 October, more than 250 were arrested. In the meantime, under the pressure of our protests and ultimatums to continue the protests in wider forms, some of them have been released, but many are still in detention. An important part of our oil workers’ campaign is the immediate release of all detained fellow workers, providing assistance to the families of loved ones who are in prison, and pushing for the withdrawal of the forces of repression from the workplace to break the severe police atmosphere that governs our work. Unfortunately, as we have already announced, due to the heavy police atmosphere in the work environment as well as the existence of many companies in Asaluyeh, we do not have a full list of the names of the fellow workers who are currently under arrest. The Organising Council asks all fellow workers to send the names of arrested workers in their company along with information about the day of their arrest and the place of detention and the photos of these loved ones to the Telegram channel of the Organising Council. Campaigning for the release of arrested co-workers and breaking the prevailing security atmosphere in companies is an important step for us oil workers in order to continue our protests and solidarity with popular struggles. We are asking all the workers and people to help us in any way they can in advancing this campaign and by declaring their support to strengthen the line of unity and struggle in oil and at the national level.

Council for Organising Protests by Oil Contract Workers, 17 October 2022

A Page from the History of Iran's Labour Movement

In 2004 and 2005, the sugarcane workers of Haft Tappeh started their protests with the slogan "We are Haft Tappeh workers, we are hungry, we are hungry" because of their low wages and delayed-payment of wages.
Amid the uproar and protest of the Haft Tappeh workers, the workers came to the conclusion that they should form an independent labour organisation.
The workers of Haft Tappeh were familiar with organising, because in 1974 they had a collective organisation, but later, during the uprising of 1979 this organisation had become inactive.
In the midst of the struggles of 2004 and 2005, a large part of the workers took this path with a plan to organise, and by holding numerous meetings, they came to the conclusion that they would create their own independent labour organisation.
In this regard, the workers, with their collective will, created an independent labour organisation in November 2007 without the permission of the government, the employer and the employment department.
By introducing representatives and placing ballot boxes in different parts of the factory, including among the sugarcane field workers and in living accommodation, the workers were able to choose their representatives by secret ballot.
Elections were held in a situation where workers and their representatives were under the most severe threats. Threats from the employers, security institutions, the risk of dismissal and other worries.
But despite their fears and police-dominated atmosphere, the workers were able to create an independent organisation of Haft Tappeh sugarcane workers on November 2008.
But, in no time, the enemies of the working class were arresting, imprisoning and expelling the elected representatives, and thus stopped the growth and expansion of the workplace assembly’s activities and from holding the general meeting for the elections (by creating an atmosphere of all-round repression) and thus the continuation of the assembly’s work.
Police pressure has prevented us from holding a general assembly since 2007, yet despite this, the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate has always been with the workers and has been able to be the voice of the Haft Tappeh workers as much as possible.
From November 2008 to November 2022, fundamental changes have taken place in the process of workers' struggle.
The spread of protests and the level of daily struggles of the workers has increased day by day. The list of demands of the workers have undergone fundamental changes based on the economic, political and social conditions, and the self-confidence of the workers has become much more noticeable than in the past. However, despite this, the lack of organisation and creation of independent labour organisations is still one of the fundamental weaknesses of the labour movement in Iran.
In such a situation, where our children and the oppressed people are on the streets, in a situation where the school and university and the street have become a bastion of struggle, where we are witnessing strikes by teachers and various other sections of the workers, the hope has sprung up that workers can create their own independent organisations, since without their own organisation, the workers cannot hold out against the scheming and designs of the class enemies.
We don't want to keep repeating the necessity of organising because the workers are aware of this, the key point is that we should be able to learn from the current situation and use the opportunities that have arisen and take steps in the path of organising.
On the anniversary of the establishment of its independent organisation, the Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate has this message: by our own strength we can stand against all oppressors and exploiters and create labour organisations independent from the government, employer and parties.
It is appropriate to mention the courage of the oppressed men and women who have never stopped fighting to achieve their wishes and demands for their rights, and despite the atmosphere of repression, killings and imprisonment, they are still present in the middle of struggle.
Today, the street, the school and the university are tied together. Beyond the strikes and support of the workers that have been sporadic until now, there is the hope that the workers, as a class, through inclusive and nationwide strikes, can play their historical role in directing and uniting the street protests, in order to herald emancipation from oppression and exploitation.
Salute to the conscious and militant girls and boys who shook the world with the slogan of "Woman, Life, Freedom!"
Salute to the workers and toilers, women and men who fight for emancipation, with the slogan of "Bread, Jobs, Freedom – Soviet Power!" Thus, forward to their destiny and to stop allowing opportunists and exploiters to take charge over their fate once again.

Haft Tappeh Sugarcane Workers’ Syndicate
Thursday, October 27, 2022