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Iran: Petrochemical workers on strike

Petrochemical workers on strike in the Apadana complex in Asaluyeh, southern Iran
Petrochemical workers on strike in the Apadana complex in Asaluyeh, southern Iran

Reporting by PMOI/MEK

Iran, February 2, 2020—Workers and employees of the Apadana petrochemical complex in Asaluyeh, southern Iran, went on strike on Saturday, February 1. A large number of these workers are young men from the city of Izeh in Khuzestan Province, southwest Iran. These workers are on strike and protesting not receiving their paychecks for the past five months.

“When we are working more than 12 hours a day and are forced to live months away from our homes and family in horrible conditions, especially with contamination resulting from chemical substances that are filled in the air in Asaluyeh, we should not be placed under such added cruelty. Why should we be deprived of our wages for several months? How are the families of these workers supposed to live without them receiving their paychecks? The only method to respond to such cruelty imposed on us by the employers and the investors is to go on strike and stop working,” the workers are saying.

On Sunday, January 26, protests erupted at the South Pars Oil Industry in southern Iran. 350 workers of the regime’s 14th phase of Pars 2 in the city of Kangan blocked the entry gate of the facility. They protested their four-month overdue wages.

How the IRGC uses the petrochemical industry to fund illicit activities

The 14th phase of Pars 2 was previously under control of the terrorist-designated Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which has been a cause for further problems for the workers. The IRGC is notoriously renowned for squandering the country's resources on terrorist and weapons-development projects, putting a heavy strain on the economy and the workers.

Pars is one of Iran's key facilities in the oil, gas and petrochemical industry. The Pars Special Energy Economic Zone is in Bushehr province alongside the Persian Gulf. Pars zone is divided into three zones. Pars 1 is in the city of Asaluyeh, Pars 2 is in Kangan and Pars 3 (known as Northern Pars) is including the cities of Tangestan, Dashti, Bushehr, etc.

Unpaid wages have become a common reason for protests in the past years. Workers, teachers, and government employees from across the country have been constantly demonstrating unpaid and months-delayed salaries. In nearly all cases, the regime has either responded by cracking down on the protesters or complying with a mere fraction of their demands.

Following U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime’s largest and most profitable petrochemical companies for their connections with the IRGC, al-Hayat daily cited revelations made by the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).

“Petrochemical industry serving IRGC terrorism and Iranian intelligence” is the title of a June 9 al-Hayat article citing NCRI revelations. The Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) is the mullahs’ main intel/spying apparatus.

“The NCRI, long calling for a full oil and arms embargo on Iran, says Tehran relies on profits from its oil and petrochemical product sales to financially fuel its terrorism and warmongering. The petrochemical branch consists of numerous companies working to provide the regime’s annual budget. The large majority of the petrochemical industry is under the control of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC). Various petrochemical experts inside Iran are estimating that 90 percent of the petrochemical industry is controlled by Khamenei himself.

 

The "Setad Ejraiye Farmane Hazrate Emam" – Headquarters for Executing the Order of the Imam – is active under Khamenei’s direct supervision. From 1999 forward, [Iran] established a firm by the name of the Tadbir Economic Development Group, consisting of a large number of petrochemical companies and has control over a large portion of Iran’s petrochemical industry.

The Persian Gulf Petrochemical Company is known as Iran’s largest petrochemical complex and the most profitable. This company is in charge of providing the funding necessary to the IRGC’s financial arm, known as Fort Khatam. This is the largest IRGC financial institution.

The Persian Gulf Petrochemical Company is the largest holding company in Iran, consisting of 15 petrochemical firms. This company was launched back in 1991 under a different name and as a subsidiary of the National Iranian Petrochemical Company. According to a 2009 Majlis (parliament) resolution, the Persian Gulf Petrochemical Company, receiving shares of other petrochemical companies, became a holding firm controlling around 40 percent of the country’s petrochemical industry.

Iraq was the endpoint of a large portion of Iran’s ordered petrochemical products in 2018 while transportation documents cite Turkey or other countries. This allows Iranian regime exporters to claim exports to Iraq were in the Iranian currency, the rial, and transfer only a portion of the profits to Iran in rials, while the main profits are held in foreign banks and used to fuel Tehran’s terrorism drive.

Al-Hayat also published a list of petrochemical companies and groups active under Khamenei and the IRGC. These companies were previously unveiled by the NCRI.