The workers of the Foster Wheeler-Tehran Jonub Company, part of the Ahvaz Steel Industry Contractors Company, today ended their 56-day strike following a meeting with Hojjat-ol-Islam Jannati and Engineer Gharavi, governor of Khuzestan. Dr. Sheybani, member of the board of directors for the National Iranian Steel Company, promised that the workers’ salaries for the strike period, as well as their new year bonuses, will be paid.

Commenting on the strike, Hojjat-ol-lslam Jannati explained that the decision to pay the workers for the strike period was based on the fact that these workers were the victims of a plot.

On January 7, the technical supervisee of this firm began a sit-in. On the same day, the workers of the firm which is constructing the Ahvaz steel complex demanded that the contract of Foster Wheeler-Tehran Jonub be cancelled and that they be covered under government civil service status. The workers, numbering about 4,000, stressed the exploitative nature of their contract and the necessity for providing them with job security in negotiations with the NISC.

At today’s gathering with the workers, Hojjat-ol-lslam Jannati described the problems in a revolution. He cited Islamic ideology with respect to strengthening the oppressed and noted the role of colonialist elements. He further reminded the workers that the revolution at this time needs creative and productive work. He further stressed that the billions being spent to construct this steel complex are being paid by the people themselves.

Prior to the speech by Hojjat-ol-lslam Jannati, a representative of the workers read a six-point resolution. The resolution detailed the plots and intrigues to force the workers to deviate from the Imam’s path, lt also asked for a complete purge of all conspiratorial elements of the firm. With regard to the purge, the Hojjat-ol-lslam stated that it must be carried out in such a way that no one’s rights would be unjustly violated, and that steps in this direction must be substantiated by facts. The resolution also demanded that job continuity and future employment must be guaranteed for the workers, all labor councils be abolished, and a speedy election, based on Islamic laws, be held to form a new council.

Commenting on the workers demands, Engineer Gharavi, the governor of Khuzestan, first presented a detailed brief on Iran’s economic problems. He also noted with regret that poverty of certain rural residents of Khuzestan is so severe that in the course of providing relief aid to flood victims the government realized that some of these rural residents are worse off than the flood victims.

With respect to job guarantees, the governor said the NISC officials have informed the governor’s office that after the Ahvaz steel complex is completed its contract workers will be hired to work at the Esfahan steel complex. He added that once certain projects planned for Khuzestan are implemented, the problem of unemployment should be solved. He said it is the president’s wish that one million persons be attracted to productive jobs in Khuzestan in the future.

The governor of Khuzestan added that there are presently 60,000 persons in Khuzestan ready and willing to work. We hope to give them jobs or help them start their own business. Regarding another demand of the workers, the governor said there is a committee at the governor’s office ready to discuss matters with workers or their representatives at any time.

The meeting lasted almost two hours and ended with workers prayers and wishes for the Imam’s good health and with slogans hailing the Imam’s leadership.

Source: Ahvaz Radio, March 3, 1980.

How to cite this article:

"Ahvaz Steel Workers’ Strike," Middle East Report 88 (June 1980).

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