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29.01.2024 / kazakhstan

Kazakhstan must respect workers’ right to strike

Kazakhstan must respect workers’ right to strike

Around 500 workers in Kazakhstan’s oil industry have been on strike since December last year. They now face dismissals, interrogation and intimidation.

Workers at West Oil Software (WOS) in Zhetybai, in the Mangistau region, launched a strike on 11 December last year after an eleven-month labour dispute with the employer. WOS is a a subcontractor to the subsidiary of state-owned oil and gas company KazMunaiGas (KMG), providing transport services.

The Industry trade union of fuel and energy complex workers say that the strikers are demanding updated vehicles and to be hired by a subsidiary of KMG, as they believe this would ensure higher wages.

On the same day as it broke out, a court declared the strike illegal. The decision was taken without due procedure, behind closed doors, without union representatives or the possibility to provide relevant information.

After an appeal was filed against the court decision, a higher court hearing was held on 24 January. 80 striking workers waited in front of the court building to be allowed in, however, not a single striker, nor their attorneys were admitted. The court again declared the strike illegal.

As the strike continues, the situation is deteriorating.

Management of West Oil Software announced the termination of employment contracts of the striking workers, and so far at least 18 workers have received notification of dismissal.

Workers have been summoned for police questioning and threatened with criminal charges. On 13 January, seven of the fired workers were interrogated by the police. Strikers’ relatives, employed by state-owned companies, have been threatened with dismissals.

Kazakhstan has a tainted record of extended labour conflicts given the tragedy in Zhanaozen in 2011. The current conflict is worrying as it may lead to unwanted social tension. Recent reports show that this peaceful workers’ protest is starting to accumulate irritation and destructive forces are joining risking it tuning into  a socio-political explosion.

IndustriALL general secretary Atle Høie says:

“We consider the court’s decision to declare the strike illegal as a violation of Kazakhstan’s international obligations in accordance with the ILO Convention 87, ratified by Kazakhstan and call on to revoke the court decision. Kazakhstan must respect fundamental workers’ right to strike.

“IndustriALL again calls for an end to the prosecution and punishment of striking workers; all workers dismissed for their participation in the strike must be reinstated. This labour conflict must be resolved through social dialogue in in a peaceful manner as soon as possible to avoid a repeat of Zhanaozen in 2011.”

Photo credit: KazTAG 

IndustriALL Global Union letter to the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Source: IndustriALL