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Iran’s Oil and Petrochemical Workers Begin Strike Amidst OPEC Cutbacks

Petrochemical workers in Bushehr take part in an anti-government protest on October 10. rferl.org
Petrochemical workers in Bushehr take part in an anti-government protest on October 10. rferl.org

Hundreds of workers at Iran’s refineries joined the anti-government protests Monday, entering a strike and participating in ongoing demonstrations with protesters in Iran. The strikes took place at the Bushehr and Damavand plants, in the souther coast town of Asalouyeh as the demonstrations now enter their fourth week and begin to hit crucial parts of Iran’s economy. 

According to reporting by The Foreign Desk, workers and staff of the Iranian state-owned Abadan refinery walked out from their jobs after reports about a strike at the Asalouyeh Complex in Bushehr Province chanting “Death to the Dictator.”

Since protests began a few weeks ago, the Islamic regime has prevented access to mobile Internet in areas like Khuzestan to prevent Western countries from seeing the actual situation. 

Even with the Internet outage, photographs and videos have emerged showing workers marching out on Monday.

Many workers marched to the administrative building to show their support for ordinary Iranians in their protests the regime, echoing calls for freedom in Iran. 

The strike comes just a few days after the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and allies announced significant cuts to global oil production putting more weight and reliance on Iran’s oil output. 

OPEC+ announced Wednesday that it would be cutting its output by 2 million barrels a day.

The strikes in Iran, particularly now affecting petrochemical and other refinery employees will undoubtedly affect the global petroleum calculation.

In one video, protesters have gathered and blocked the road to Asalouyeh Complex and gone on strike, attempting to prevent regime forces from trying to crack down on workers.

In other videos, workers are attempting to block the road with objects like stones, rubble, and barrels of tar on fire, to prevent security forces from storming the area. To further show support against protests, many of the workers have chanted, “Long live Iran! Long live Lurs, Turks, Kurds, Arabs, and Bakhtiari’s!” 

Workers have also stated that they are not afraid of the Islamic Republic and whatever they face. Some media outlets also reported that workers from Damavand Petrochemical Company and Kangan Petro Refining Company have joined in the strike against the regime.

In a statement by the Council for Organizing Oil-Contract Workers’ Protests on social media, the group said that contract workers at Bushehr Petrochemical Company and Hengam Petrochemical Company began their protests in solidarity with the people of Iran. 

The group urged all oil, gas, and petrochemical workers of every type of employment status to protest and prepare for nationwide strikes. The council warned a few days ago that the workers would not stay silent to the killing of protesters and would continue to go on strike.

According to other reports, drivers of bitumen tankers of Pasargad Abadan Refinery engaged in the strike and have refused to take any loads for the fourth consecutive day.

In response to the oil workers, regime officials have accused protesters of sabotaging Iran, vowing to crack down against any worker who refuses to work. For the past four weeks, the regime has deployed its security forces throughout the country to crack down on ordinary Iranian citizens on the streets.

The recent actions by the oil workers in Abadan mirror that of the Islamic Revolution of 1979 under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, where the supporters of the Islamic movement called on oil workers to cease working to bring down the Shah’s regime. 

As a result of that action, the economic situation in Iran worsened, playing a significant part in the Shah’s overthrow. With oil workers repeating the same measures today, many Iranian American experts believe this will help lead to potential regime change against the mullahs, cutting off any economic support they have.

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