On the recent protest of Arkan Saless contract workers

The following is the translation of the Khuzestan Vanguard Socialist Workers’ Cell’s bulletin No. 49. It highlights the lessons of the protest of Arkan Saless contract workers on 17 February 2024 outside the Presidential Office in Tehran and in Khuzestan province.

Re-posted from Shahrokh Zamani Action Campaign

A brief look at the recent gathering of Arkan Saless workers

Greetings to all respected colleagues and workers of the Arkan Saless contractors throughout Iran, who with their powerful presence in front of the Presidential Office, once again showed their solidarity and unity to gain the demands that they have been searching for over many years and have not yet been fulfilled! Of course, like any other committed worker, we take part in your protests and want to remove these discriminations and establish justice in all economic and social fields. But why doesn’t this happen? Didn’t we strike and protest enough? Where is the problem?

In our opinion, part of the problem lies in the divisions that the government and employers have created among us workers to prevent our unity and common action. We have talked a lot about the divisive methods under different names, and we will not discuss them here again, but if our worker comrades deem it necessary, we can talk more about them in the future.

The other part is the emphasis on proposing only trade demands and avoiding any step forward. Posing the slogans that are raised by some workers’ currents and, in a way, heading the wrong way and wading in the quagmire that we have been in for years and still are, not only does not get us anywhere but also makes us leave the arena in the hands of the opponent who wants to manipulate us however he wants. An obvious example were the workers’ slogans about excluding contractors on Saturday [17 February 2024]. “We don’t want contractors, we don’t want exploitation” and “Contractor companies, only oppression and exploitation”. It’s as if the contractors are aliens from other planets and have no connection or anything to do with the government, and they are the only parties to our dispute, and if they leave, our whole problem is solved. Who doesn’t know that most of these contractors are rentiers of the regime and are eating out of the government’s hand? The government will not remove them under any circumstances, and if forced, it will return them again with a new name and legal look. The reason for this claim is the words that our worker comrade said in the presence of all of us after the meeting on Saturday at the Presidential Office. These words clearly show that we haven’t even got the foundations right. It goes without saying that even the composition of this meeting showed its anti-worker nature. A representative from the Presidential Office, several representatives from the National Oil Company, that is, employers, and several workers.

According to the statement of this dear worker: “The government is fundamentally against the removal of contracting companies, but if parliament votes to exclude them, the government will agree.” This is wishful thinking, like hoping for a bountiful spring during a freezing winter. For how many years have we made this request? And how far have we got? Even when the reformists with their democratic gestures were in parliament, what did parliament do for us?

Another demand was to amend the job classification scheme, which “the gentlemen carefully checked, the defects were removed, and God willing, will be published in April and, by the hope of God, will be implemented from June.” It is not known what faults were fixed. Perhaps they must have fixed it like last time, which didn’t take long to become worse.

The unexplained failure of the Bonus Card and Oil Card provisions were blamed on several corrupt companies that have not yet started them: “maybe they will pay one by the end of this year, and that other will be ready by next year, God willing.” Saying God willing and the like will not feed our wives and children. To be honest, according to our worker comrade in the Arkan Saless Company: “We are playing in their playing field … like the Oil Card and Bonus Card provisions, keeping us occupied and take us away from the main goal. Let’s suppose we get to this condition of changing the situation, we have to aim for the main goal, otherwise the Oil Card and Bonus Card will be stopped. I swear, they are keeping us occupied with these things. Please ignore them; just change the situation.”

The other part of the matter, which is very important, is the question of organisation, which gives direction and purpose to our movement, and informs and engages more workers in the struggle, and transfers experiences from generation to generation. When we have an organisation, we will not go over the same ground. On the day of the demonstration, our worker comrade said: “We must awake up. Until we get our rights, we should even hold a rally once a month so that Latifi [Vice President and Head of the Administrative and Recruitment Affairs Organisation of Iran] and others like Latifi would see in practice that the [National Oil] Company and the Arkan Saless contract workers are awake, and not just sloganeering. The power of the unity of the Arkan Saless workers should be so great that they won’t make any more empty promises. It’s enough to make appeals … to protest and rally is not only the responsibility of a few colleagues. The rest of us are partners in this matter, win or lose, whose gains are more than its losses.”

How can we protest once a month or even once a day? And how can the responsibility of doing things be made collective? Our work won’t go forward only with glory and complaints. But this action is possible through an organising. An organisation helps us achieve the maximum results with the least losses. Another worker comrade clearly reflected the same thing in the following speech: “We are going one step further to reach the goal, we’ve protested now and shown that all of us workers are discriminated against, but in order to get one step further, we must organise and form a committee for strikes. If you think there is a price and the price is high, then there is no problem. Have a think about the price of staying on contracts. Yes, yesterday we were everywhere, in the South and Tehran. So, we were able to issue an appeal. Now we have the power to appeal again until we achieve what we want.”

Besides organising protests and strikes, an organisation also helps to raise the general consciousness of workers. The lower the social knowledge and consciousness of us workers, the more likely we are to be cheated. Let us listen to the agonies of some worker comrades of the Arkan Saless Company on this matter:

“- People who are not active and don’t co-operate in gatherings, or at least post stories, are very damaging to the solving the dispute.
“- We talk with these people for three hours, for example, saying that you deserve a better life and that the contractor should not cheat you out of your hard-earned wages. Finally, after three hours, he says: what I get is enough for me.
“- The truth is that some of the Arkan Saless workers are crawlers by nature … they still have not posted a story about these injustices.
“- Our main problem is the misunderstanding and depth of ignorance among the Arkan Saless people.”

Of course, we see the problem not in the people, but in the lack of general consciousness, otherwise how can a worker be against higher wages or equalisation [of wages differentials]?


We need empathy and unity to continue the struggle and create the actual conditions for the realisation of our demands. So far, the government and the capitalists have used all kinds of tricks against this unity, but now it is our turn. It may be possible to lure a worker with a little more money or a more comfortable position for a while, but this deception will not last forever. During crises, the capitalist does not show mercy to the weak or the strong. The latest example we witnessed was during the Corona period. Most of the dead were among the poor and hardworking sections of society. We have always paid and will always pay the penalty. Didn’t we sacrifice our lives and our children’s lives during the eight-year war? What was the result? Today, their children are in foreign countries, and our children are hungry, unemployed and on the streets.

Let’s not make a mistake! We face a government that favours contractors, and not contractors alone. As long as this government and this system are in power, the contractor will continue to survive. Our life situation won’t change with a change in managers. Until now, whenever we’ve protested, the government of these business owners has sent the army, the riot police, and the [IRGC] Guards after us. No contractor has his own personal army.


According to a worker present on Saturday: “We must attack continuously. As football players say, the best defence is attack. As long as we actively line up for attack, they will have to think about defence. So, it’s better to think about attack, which is the same gathering for a shorter time, to win.”

Be victorious.

* Let us build the clandestine socialist vanguard workers’ cells!
* Let us unite the vanguard workers based on the workers’ action programme!
* Let us build the workers’ united general action and form the workers’ leadership command centre!
* Let us fight for the formation of a workers’ government and a free socialist society!

Vanguard Socialist Workers’ Cell (Khuzestan)
20 February 2024

Telegram channel of Vanguard Socialist Workers’ Cell (Khuzestan): https://t.me/ahvazijava

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