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Strikes and Protests Continue in Kazakhstan

Strikes and Protests Continue in Kazakhstan

  • Stephen Shenfield
    Stephen Shenfield
  • 09
    7:18 pm
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The following report of developments in western Kazakhstan is based on information from the Russian trade union website

Strikes and protests of working people continue in Kazakhstan despite harsh suppression of the January protests.

Workers at the MAEK-Kazatomprom (Kazakh Atomic Industry) and at the Glass and Plastic Pipes Factory in Mangistau Province, who downed tools on Monday, are on strike for a third day. On Tuesday they were joined by rescue workers, guards, and firefighters of KMG Security.

The strikers have put up tents and stoves and are staying on the grounds of their enterprises. Local residents and workers at neighboring enterprises are giving them active support and collecting food and water for them. New work collectives may join the strike this week.

The strikers at MAEK-Kazatomprom in Aktau are demanding a 100% increase in wages. They all rejected the employers’ offer to raise wages by 30%. The workers at the pipe factory are demanding the release of arrested colleagues, a wage increase, and the return of their factory to KazMunaiGaz (Kazakh Municipal Gas), from which it was separated when it was privatized and rationalized several years ago.

The staff of KMG Security went on strike last summer, but many of their demands concerning compliance with labor legislation, payment of bonuses, and improvement in working conditions were not met. The promised wage increase was implemented only in part.

In Janaozen a new mass meeting has already been in progress for a week. Its participants are the unemployed and also workers from various enterprises whose employers refuse to take them on as regular staff and use them only on the basis of outsourcing. A whole series of work collectives are taking a stand against outsourcing.

Unemployed young people are demanding that they be given work without delay, that new jobs be created and new enterprises built in the region, where many deposits of natural resources are already nearing depletion. This demand was raised at the mass meetings in January and is now prominent in the current protests. The mass meeting is now continuing night and day.

On February 8 protests began in Aktau by mothers demanding the building of schools and kindergartens and also an end to illegal commercial construction. Their protests were joined by unemployed people and outsourced workers.

Together they decided to support the participants in the mass meeting in Janaozen, organized their own protest outside the building of the provincial administration, and then the following night blocked the carriageways of the city’s central streets. The police dispersed the crowd, but the protest is likely to resume.

Clearly the protests are not dying out but are again growing in scale. The strikers at the three enterprises and the unemployed are now protesting day and night and refusing to disperse. Last month’s mass strikes and protests may recur, especially in view of the fact that not a single social demand has been met apart from a temporary cut in the price of gas for 180 days. 

Source: Translated by Stephen Shenfield