From “Oil Nationalisation and Managerial Disclosure: The Case of Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, 1933-1951”
Chapter 3: Employee relations and Iranianisation
Author : NEVEEN Abdelrehim | The university of york
The discrimination against Iranians resulted in a mix of different groups including nationality, class and employment status. The total number of hospital beds provided by the AIOC was 590 for a population of 180,000 which indicates that many people were not entitled to medical treatment at all. There was a “staff” hospital for the Europeans and clerks and a Native hospital for the other “employees”. The European hospital had 3 wards of 2 beds each for the treatment of Europeans and staff of clerical grades but the native hospital consisted of a single tent, surrounded by expanded metal fencing. The company seemed only concerned about the health of the British workers ignoring the health needs of the Iranian workers whilst asserting “…there were serious problems of health, especially among the white staff”. Iranian doctors were not given the opportunity to benefit from the experience of British doctors whose duty was principally to take care of the British staff. This may be the reason why Iranian doctors preferred to work in other parts of the country even for less reward. There were no maternity hospitals or even a midwife in smaller areas. As far as medical staff were concerned, the company‟s prejudice became evident, as there were separate wards for British and Iranians. British wards were privileged to contain only 4 beds to accommodate few patients whereas the wards for the natives had 22 beds on average. Moreover, British wards had their own bathrooms and toilets. All medical stores were kept separate so that no equipment from the British wards could be used in the other wards. This discrimination is well captured from Idelson‟s attitude when he explained the plan of the AIOC towards the Iranian medical staff by asserting that: The obligations of the company to reduce its non-Iranian staff do not extend to the replacement of its medical and administrative staff. I still adhere to that view but regard it necessary not to express it in the general plan so as to avoid at this stage a controversy with the government.
Evidently, each component from housing to medical treatment was influenced by racial discrimination and inequality in favour of the British. Perhaps not surprisingly, even the food was passed to the Matron to divide into two different quotas for the European wards and native wards respectively before handing it over to the cooks. Clearly, the company remained conservative and refused to work towards Iranianisation despite the awareness of its importance in enabling the company to conduct negotiations (for instance sanitation, housing) with local authorities (thereby circumventing the political questions raised by central government). The operations of the AIOC brought injustice and racial discrimination against the local population in Iran which was a major drive for nationalism. The evidence would seem to support Elm‟s view, that notwithstanding the economic and military importance of Iran, British politicians and the senior management of the AIOC displayed complacency and colonial arrogance.
Notes & References
445. BP 37074, fields medical and health services, 21st April 1927, 13; Johnson, British multinationals, culture and empire in the early Twentieth century.
446. BP 37074, Ibid, 16.
447. BP 18791, the Anglo Persian Oil Co Ltd, Wembley 1925, 14.
448. Elwell-Sutton, Persian Oil, A study in power politics, 97.
449. BP 62398, Medical services, 6th March 1924.
450. BP 37074, fields medical and health services, 21st April 1927, 13.
451. Ibid, 12.
452. BP 101099, opinion on general plan 20th February 1948, 4.
453. Johnson, British multinationals, culture and empire in the early Twentieth century, 114.
454. BP 37074, fields medical and health services, 21st April 1927, 17.
455. Elm, Oil Power and Principle: Iran’s oil nationalisation and its aftermath; Heiss, Empire and Nationhood.