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Iran Grapples With Major Oil Worker Strike

Oil and petrochemical workers from 60 companies across eight Iranian provinces are now on strike demanding higher wages and better contractual conditions, Iran International reported, adding that the strikes have been intensifying since last week.

The London-based Iran-focused outlet explained that the strikes follow a change in the way people rehired in the country’s oil industry. Retiring full-time workers are being replaced with employees hired on a temporary contract basis. After 20 years of this practice, to date there are more than 150,000 temporary workers in the Iranian oil industry who are denied the benefits that full-time, long-term contract workers enjoy.

At the same time, Iran International noted in an earlier report on the strikes, inflation in Iran amid U.S. sanctions is soaring, rising by over 50 percent in the past 12 months alone. Food prices have gone up by 70 percent over the same period.

Temporary workers in Iran’s oil industry make less than $300 a month and are demanding $500.

“Considering the stunning rise of prices, monthly wages should not be less than 120 million rials ($500 at current exchange rate),” the strikers said in a statement. “Our colleagues deserve pay increases based on their level of expertise and our regularly employed colleagues also protest the ever-decreasing purchasing power of workers.”

The oil industry is essential for the Iranian economy, which might lead to a fast resolution of the workers’ grievances. The situation might escalate further if this does not happen.

The sanction status of this industry remains uncertain. Last week, Reuters quoted the chief of staff of incumbent president Hassan Rouhani as saying the U.S. has agreed to lift all sanctions on the oil and shipping industries. Later, a U.S. official said that “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com

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