|After Nationalization: the Social Setting of Labour in the Iranian Oil Industry|
|The discourse of nationalization of oil became dominant in the 1940s in Iran, especially after the end of the Second World War. The hostility against the British exploitation of Iranian oil sprung from various sources. It was believed that Iran was not getting her fair share of benefit from its own oil. It was also argued that the working and living conditions of the workers was struck with a discriminatory hierarchy among the British and Iranian employees placing them in a colonial relationship in a non-colonial setting. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was considered to be the sole responsible for the living and working conditions of the local workers according to the 1933 Convention and it was claimed that the company did not fulfil its obligations.
The workers' discontent which was embodied in protests and strikes combined with the government's concern of taking its fair share from the oil industry ended up with the Musaddiq government's bill of nationalization of oil that was ratified in May 1951.
The immediate reaction of the British government and its allies was to put an embargo on the Iranian oil aiming the prevention of its export. The embargo was followed by a CIA and British Intelligence Service sponsored coup of 1953 that put an end to the Musaddiq government.
Following the coup, refraining from annulling Musaddiq's nationalization policies, the Iranian government decided to adapt a new policy towards its oil management. Given the hegemonic character of the nationalization discourse in the society together with the demands of the other international actors in the oil sector, the alternative came in October 1954 in the form of an Iranian Oil Consortium. The consortium was made of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company returning to Iran with a new name, the British Petroleum (BP) 40%, the Dutch Shell 14%, a group of American oil companies 40%, and the French Compagnie Française des Pétroles (CFP) 6% that would work together with the National Iranian Oil Company, which now owned Iran's oil deposits.
This paper reviews the social setting of labour in the Iranian oil sector before nationalization and after the consortium take over. The working and living conditions of the workers in the late 1940s will be analyzed in compare and contrast with the living and working conditions of the workers after the setting of the consortium in 1954. The BP archives, the UK National Archives and the Iranian National archives will be utilized to examine the changes in the labour recruitment policy and its effect to the ethnic and gender composition of the workers in the Iranian oil sector.