People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 49

December 09, 2012


Tehran Hosts International Meet of Energy Sector TUs


Swadesh Dev Roye


AT the initiative of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) and with its cooperation, the Workers’ House of Iran hosted an international trade union conference of representatives of trade unions in energy sector from different countries, at Tehran on November 7-8, 2012. The conference was planned to coincide with the “Annual Workers’ Parliament” of the Iranian trade union, held at the old Parliament House of Iran. Trade unions from India, China, Greece, Peru, Pakistan, Sudan, Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon and Turkey participated in the conference. Swadesh Dev Roye led a four-member delegation from the energy sector in India.


The international meet was preceded by a huge open session of the ‘Workers’ Parliament’ (conference) of Iran; it was attended by around 700 delegates from all over the country and also by the foreign delegates. Apart from the president and general secretary of the Workers’ House, the speaker and many members of Iranian parliament and also an emissary of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Amadinejad, addressed the conference. From among the foreign delegates, the WFTU general secretary and leaders of the Chinese and Indian delegations also addressed the Workers’ Parliament.




Interestingly, during the course of their speeches, the speakers accepted interventions from the floor. It is significant to note here that interventions from the worker delegates clearly demonstrated how Iranian people are rock-like united in condemning the onslaught of US imperialism and its western allies against Iran. It will not be an exaggeration to say that the people of Iran are not daunted due to the ‘economic sanction’ unilaterally imposed by the US and supported by its western allies or by the constant threat of military attack or imposition of war on Iran by the Zionist agents of imperialism.


Other prominent issues which surfaced in course of intervention by worker delegates were clear opposition to privatisation, to the proposed anti-worker changes in labour laws and the menacing issue of contract labour system. The strongly critical views of the working class movement in the country was vividly presented with courage and conviction by Alireza Mahjoub, general secretary of the Workers House of Iran, in his recent book on the plight of workers in Iran. Commenting on a legislative bill, Mahjoub noted that “the plight of dispatch and contract labour has reached a serious point and, instead of focussing on collective bargaining, the proposed legislation’s hidden intention is to sacrifice these rights of the workers in the “slaughter house of the capitalists.”


The message is very loud and clear. The working class of the country is committed to fight and defend the sovereignty of the country and protect its boundaries and assets from the threatened imperialist aggression. At the same time, however, they are also determined to fight the anti-worker measures of the government in order to bail out the capitalist class at the cost of the workers.


The international meeting was structured into an inaugural session, a group exercise and a concluding session. WFTU general secretary George Mavrikos presided over the opening plenary and also delivered the keynote address. He strongly condemned the imperialist onslaughts on the Middle East countries, centring round the energy assets of the region. He came down heavily against the unilateral, inhuman sanction imposed on Iran by the US and its allies. Mavrilos reaffirmed the WFTU’s solidarity with the people of the Arab countries in their fight against US imperialism and its cohorts. The WFTU’s view on energy sector was reiterated thus: “the strategic sectors of the economy such as energy belong to the state and not private corporate. This sector must be directed by policy focussed on the need of people.”


Deliberations in the plenary session were initiated by Swadesh Dev Roye, in his capacity as the president of Trade Unions International (Energy). His paper was titled, “Mobilise Workers to Defeat Imperialist Machinations in Energy Sector.”


The gist of the paper was the US and its European allies are after the heads of the governments who are not subservient to imperialist forces, for example, Syria and Iran. On the other hand, the imperialist powers are openly supporting, with money and war weapons, the brutal suppression of the people’s genuine upsurge against the autocratic rulers of Bahrain, Yemen, Jordan, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and so on. It is because these autocrats are the firm and strategic allies of imperialist powers. The latest instance is of intensification of the people’s struggle in Kuwait and Bahrain, when Obama and the US administration kept quiet over the Saudi intervention and brutal suppression of the people’s revolt in Bahrain.


In the matter of nuclear technology, the US role of a shocking example of extreme hypocrisy, as the entire world knows that the US possesses the largest and deadliest stockpile of nuclear arms and other weapons of mass destruction and is the only country guilty of its use.


The senseless and conspiratorial US imperialist campaign against Iran is best exposed in Noam Chomsky’s statement that “Israel is the sole possessor of nuclear arsenal in the Middle East with over 200 undeclared nuclear warheads….. Tel Aviv has rejected global demands to join the NPT and does not allow IAEA inspectors to observe its controversial nuclear programme….. Iran has always pursued the policy of nuclear transparency and has granted IAEA inspectors access to its nuclear facilities to conduct snap inspection.”




The conference opined that the trade union movement in energy sector must not make the mistake to understate the evil-intentioned US game against Iran on the plea that Iran is pursuing the military objective of making nuclear weapons. Imperialist powers and their allies actually want to carry out an Iraq-Libya type aggression against Iran as the latter is the second largest producer of oil in the region. It is crystal clear to the world that the US policy vis-à-vis he Middle East has been to ensure that the region’s energy reserves firmly remain under American control. According to Michel Chossudovsky, “Washington’s military roadmap is aimed at global dominance in which hegemony over the vast energy-producing Middle East and Central Asian regions is crucial to marginalising the heavy weight rivals of Russia and China.”


The conference noted that only five major oil MNCs dominate the US oil and gas industry. These are: Exxon-Mobil, Chevron-Texaco-Gulf-Unocal, BP-Amoco-Arco, Total-Elf-Fina and Shell. These giant oil corporations exert tremendous influence over the US governments and interfere through various notorious means in shaping the petroleum policies of individual countries across the world. These giants are vertically integrated, i.e. they all are involved in the oil and gas industry at every level, including exploration, production, refining and wholesale and retail marketing. One must also remember that these oil corporations have decisive access to the president and vice president of US, what to talk of officials of the US Administration.


Six countries in the Arab region have more than 90 per cent of the oil reserves of the world. These, in the order of ranking, are Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates and Libya. Out of these, Saudi Arabia, which has the largest oil reserves, is a firm ally of the United States while Kuwait and UAE too are in US’s clutches. Not only Iraq has the world’s second largest proven oil reserve but also its oil is of high quality and extraordinarily cheap in production. Exploration and development of oil in Iraq costs 2.5 dollars a barrel, compared to about 5.00 dollars in Malaysia and 20.00 dollars in Canada. An online document titled “Oil Reserve” noted that as per the OPEC data at the beginning of 2011, “the highest proved oil reserves including non-conventional oil deposits are in Venezuela (20 per cent of global reserves), Saudi Arabia (18 per cent of global reserves), Canada (13 per cent of global reserves) and Iran (nine per cent of global reserves).”




As for natural gas, almost quarter of world energy comes from this source and consumption has nearly doubled in the last 30 years. Moreover, its demand is increasing. The world’s largest natural gas reserves are in Russia, Iran and Qatar. Russia is the biggest exporter. There has been growing demand for natural gas supplies worldwide. In countries such as China and India domestic natural gas suppliers have not been able to meet the growing demand.


The Middle East is a major player in natural gas production. Iran has the largest natural gas production capacity but is constrained due to unilateral US sanction. Next is Qatar. According to an assessment the natural gas reserves of these two countries may last for more than a hundred years. In the absence of established infrastructure for supply of natural gas, huge amounts of gas are flared up. Europe is a net importer of natural gas. In the American continent, Venezuela is the main producer.


A very significant development pertaining to the refining sector is worth noting. China and Saudi Arabia have come together to build a gigantic oil refinery at a reported cost of 8.5 billion dollars. Chinese oil company SINOPEC has a share of 37.5 per cent and Saudi oil giant ARAMCO has 62.5 per cent in this joint venture that is to be operational by 2014. Egypt too is building its ever largest oil refinery with investment from China. The latest is China’s agreement with Nigeria to construct three gasoline refineries in Nigeria at an investment of 23 billion dollars. According to a report, China is currently the biggest crude oil importer from Saudi Arabia. All these developments, according to some oil watchers, may have impact a serious on the system of ‘petro-dollar’ which in turn can have great political impacts on the energy sector in the world.




Liberation of the Arab people from imperialist powers and achieving genuine democracies rule in the African and Middle East countries shall go a long way in the fight against imperialism. Certainly the international trade union movement has a responsibility to extend powerful support to the fighting people of the region and to strongly condemn the hegemonic interference in the region by American imperialists and their European allies.


After the first plenary session the delegates were divided into three groups on the following subjects: (a) Correlation between clean energy and nuclear energy (b) Imperialism and market driven energy policy, and (c) Workers’ rights in the new energy era. A background note on each of the three subjects was presented to serve as the basis for group discussion. Each of the group leaders then presented a report on the group exercise in the concluding session.


Finally the meeting adopted a Declaration which stressed the importance of energy sector in our social life. It strongly condemned the machinations of imperialist powers and the monopoly of a few giant MNCs in energy sector. Lambasting the US-EU sanction against Iran, the Declaration demanded its immediate end. It also deplored the denial of trade union rights in energy sector and demanded full trade union rights under the ILO Conventions 87 and 98.


The Declaration expressed serious concern over the explosive situation in the Middle East, with the ongoing foreign armed intervention in Syria, which is motivated by imperialist design to capture the “Roads of Energy,” and the US desire for a “Greater Middle East.”


Reaffirming solidarity with the people’s struggle in the region, the Declaration extended steady support for the Palestinian people, the people of Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan who have been suffering repression of the US-EU-NATO forces and their allies in the region. It demanded that the people of the countries of this region “must have free democratic rights to shape the present and future of their countries without any uncalled for devil designed intervention from imperialist forces.”


The Declaration concluded with a clarion call: “We condemn the embargo against Iran and the threats of military aggression by USA, NATO, the EU and the Israeli government. We demand total removal of the sanctions forthwith.”


The meeting took place at a crucial juncture for the region. Incidentally, it also served as the curtain riser to the forthcoming congress of Trade Unions International (Energy), scheduled to take place at Caracas, Venezuela, on November 29-30, 2012.