Date: Wed, 26 Feb 97 16:05:01 CST
From: rich@pencil (Rich Winkel)
Subject: Iranian Oil Workers Strike After Arrests?

/** 402.0 **/
** Topic: Iranian Oil Workers Strike After Arrests? **
** Written 8:07 PM Feb 23, 1997 by labornews in **
From: Institute for Global Communications <>
Subject: Iranian Oil Workers Strike After Arrests?

ICEM UPDATE No. 9/1997

Iranian Oil Workers Strike After Arrests?

In ICEM Update, No. 9/1997. 17 February, 1997

Workers launched strikes yesterday in Iran's four oil refining centres, according to Iranian emigre organisations. The groups said the strikes in Shiraz, Isfahan, Tabriz and Tehran are in protest at the arrest of hundreds of oil workers and their elected representatives in Tehran yesterday, during a picket of the oil ministry. Workers in the Tehran oil distribution department, on the oil pipelines and in the national gas company have also joined the strike, the groups claim.

Iran has now outlawed all oil workers' organisations and refused the workers' demand for collective bargaining, the exile groups report.

This directly contradicts a statement by the oil minister on Iranian radio yesterday that a negotiated agreement had been reached with the oil workers. Claiming "100% reliable" sources within the country, the emigre groups describe the minister's statemen t as a "complete fabrication."

According to the groups, most of the arrests took place when Revolutionary Guards were called in to disperse a picket of "around 2,000 oil workers and their representatives, accompanied by many other workers of associated industries." More arrests were ma de during raids on workers' homes last night.

The emigre groups have urged "all trade unions, political parties and the media to publicise this news and to put pressure on the Iranian government to free, immediately and unconditionally, all oil workers and their supporters who have been arrested."

Iranian oil workers have been campaigning for better pay and conditions, but also for the right to form their own union and to bargain collectively. In the absence of any clear response from the authorities, some work stoppages reportedly took place last year. Workers threatened a further, unlimited strike if their demands were not met. Oil is Iran's main export.

On 5-6 February this year, according to the emigre groups, oil workers in each city elected representatives, who met in Tehran on 7 February to form a national oil workers' organisation. However, the government intervened, dissolved the meeting and sent t he representatives back to their respective cities, which it forbade them to leave. A week later, the government demanded that each oil city send representatives to Tehran for negotiations. Those negotiations were "fruitless," the emigre groups say. Hence yesterday's mass picket of the oil ministry.

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