Iran oil workers strike, say Ayatollah Khamenei is ‘done’
Workers have brought oil production to a standstill. | via IranWire

Workers brought oil production to a standstill in a series of strikes at several sites across Iran this week as the latest battleground emerged in an escalating wave of protests that continue to sweep the country.

The Council of Oil Contract Workers announced that more than 4,000 workers were striking, affecting sites on the Persian Gulf coast, including the Bushehr, Borzovieh, Hemgan, and Asaluyeh petrochemical refineries. The second phase of the Abadan refinery and several companies were also hit by the action.

Workers of Asaluyeh petrochemical sites in southern Bushehr city refused to return to work, made makeshift defenses of lines of rocks and rubble, and torched objects on the streets to prevent riot forces from reaching the scene.

In videos emerging from Bushehr, angry workers could be heard chanting, “Death to the Dictator,” “Death to Khamenei!” and “This year is the year of blood, Seyyed Ali Khamenei is done!”

“The proud workers of Asaluyeh blocked the roads and joined the strikes,” a man is heard saying as hundreds of workers gathered outside the facility amid plumes of thick smoke.

The refinery and associated petrochemical industries at Asaluyeh are considered one of the most important pieces of economic infrastructure in Iran and a main source of revenue for the government. But the Council of Oil Contract Workers had warned the government last week they would go on strike if security forces continued suppressing protests.

“We will stop working and join the people if you continue killing and arresting people in their protest against compulsory hijab,” the Council said in a statement.

“We, the workers of the oil projects, in unison with people in Iran, once again declare our anger and hatred towards the murder of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the morality police. We support the people’s fight against organized crimes against women, and growing poverty,” it added.

Widespread strikes have been reported in several cities across the country in recent days, especially in Kurdish towns where public outcry sparked a nationwide protest after 22-year-old Mahsa Amini died on Sept. 16, three days after she was arrested in the capital by Iran’s religious morality police.

Traders in the Grand Bazaar, Lalehzar, Sepehsalar Garden, Tajrish Bazaar, and Shiraz Bazaar in Tehran, as well as in markets in other cities in Kurdistan province and other Kurdish towns elsewhere, were already on strike.

“Nothing [bad] will happen to me if I don’t work for a few days. Even if we open our shops, people are not in a good economic situation, and we cannot sell anything,” a trader from Tehran’s bazaar told IranWire.

Iranian authorities have started a crackdown against workers’ rights activists and arrested at least two of them in the capital on Monday.

Intelligence forces stormed the houses of Asad Meftahi and Peyman Salem and moved them to an unknown location, rights groups confirmed Monday.

Unrest was reported early Monday from Sanandaj, the capital of Iran’s Kurdistan province, as well as in the village of Salas Babajani near the border with Iraq. Footage showed heavy gunfire before dawn in the city.

According to reports received by IranWire from the provincial capital of Sanandaj over the weekend, government forces targeted protesters with tear gas and live ammunition. Several protestors were reported to have been killed and many others injured. A source described the city as “a war zone.”

The heavy presence of security forces in the Kurdish cities of Sanandaj, Saqqez, and Divandareh was also reported.

Footage shared on social media showed protests in dozens of cities across Iran, with fierce clashes between protesters and riot police in cities and towns across Amini’s native Kurdistan province.

Authorities in Tehran did not acknowledge any disruption in the oil industry, but Tasnim News Agency described the incident as a salary dispute.

Over 200 people, including at least 19 children, have so far been killed in the unrest.

This is an abbreviated version of an article that originally appeared on IranWire.


Akhtar Safi
Akhtar Safi

Akhtar Safi writes for IranWire, a collaborative news website run by professional Iranian journalists in the diaspora and citizen journalists inside Iran.