SOLIDARITY WITH OPRESSED WORKERS OF KAZAKHSTAN
On July 7, 2020, the Socialist Movement of Kazakhstan and the “Zhanartu” labor union called on communist, leftist and workers’ organizations to hold solidarity actions with the trade union and labor activists, who are being persecuted by the country’s authorities for their activities, for demanding that the enterprise administrations comply with labor laws.
It is worth recalling that on June 25, 2020, in the capital of Kazakhstan, a peaceful picket of residents and former workers, which took place in front of the presidential administration by the Zhanaozen authorities, was disrupted and dispersed. One of the demands made by the administration of President Kassym-Zhomart Tokayev to the workers ’picket was a fair and vital requirement for the speedy and compulsory employment of many workers who became disabled as a result of an almost unknown world community – the Kazakhstani shooting of a meeting of oil workers on December 16, 2011. some of the protesters died, many of the survivors were injured, and, as a result, became disabled people of varying severity who needed to somehow feed their families.
Onaygul Dosmagambetova, the mother of one of the leaders of the strike, Maksat Dosmagambetov, who died last year from the results of brutal beatings by representatives of the law enforcement bodies of Kazakhstan, wanted to join the picket, Maksat Dosmagambetov was diagnosed with an oncological diagnosis of facial bones that are not compatible with life. The mother of the deceased Onaygul, without any explanation of the reasons, the police detained on the way to the picketers.
The president of today’s Kazakhstan was not at all bothered by the incident on December 16, 2011. – in fact, the only one in the former CIS of the 21st century. execution of peaceful protests of workers demanding a decent attitude.
The surplus value earned by the oil industry is unlikely to improve the infrastructure of the city – no, of course, it makes up the profits of the owners of the founders and other legal entities, and ordinary citizens know how they manage it and whether the infrastructure of the capital of the city improves.
It is thanks to the hard work of oil workers, which they perform in violation of personal safety standards – their superiors ignore labor laws. The workers, fearing layoffs during difficult times of the pandemic and the economic crisis, were silent for a long time, hoping that their working conditions would improve – because the profits of the owners of the enterprise directly depend on them, and, in fact, they should be directly interested in this. However, President Kassym-Zhomart Tokaev and his numerous administration, disproportionately inflated due to clan rule and nepotism, lead a prosperous lifestyle, creating the status of successful leaders for the country and its President – the oil production and oil refining sectors play a significant role in the economy of Kazakhstan.
The ruling classes, the power elites of Kazakhstan, to the end, apparently do not realize that without timely paid wages to workers and improved working conditions, a conflict-free continuation of their usual way of life is impossible. The habit of feeling like a special category of people – masters of lives, an elite that is different from most ordinary people in Kazakhstan, can very soon do a disservice to them.
The power structures of Kazakhstan do not think at all that for the sake of their status and high standard of living, even those elementary labor laws are violated every year, neglect of which leads to a danger to the lives of workers, as the union of oil workers repeatedly warned them. Until dissatisfaction and protest sentiment among the workers accumulated, and they went to an open meeting with the most natural demands, hoping that they would be heard. But in response then, nine years ago, an unprecedented shooting of rally workers took place.
After the tragic events, many of the survivors of the rally were fired “with a wolf ticket,” that is, with the inability to find a job for their profile. People who are seriously affected by law enforcement bullets, having acquired a degree of disability. Many of them over the nine years that have passed since then were able to partially restore many of their vital and working functions. However, they continue to be unemployed, unable to adequately provide for themselves and their family.
The oil industry workers, who had to go to extreme lengths in order to be heard by the administration and authorities on that tragic December day for many, to quit their jobs and come to a protest rally against violations of labor laws, not only did not achieve anything, they were not heard by the higher management … A number of people have not even received compensation for their injuries.
Participants in the July 2020 rally, in addition to putting forward socio-economic slogans, demanded that the names of those who had given fire to kill be given. Another demand was the cessation of so many years of lasting pressure and repression on activists.
The fact is that at the end of 2019, the leader of the Zhanaozen Jobless Movement Yerzhan Yelshibaev was convicted in a fabricated case; he was given five years of educational work in the colony. In March and April 2020, human rights activist Yerzhan Yelshibaev was repeatedly beaten in a colony located in the Turkestan region (formerly South Kazakhstan). But even despite the participation of activists from international human rights organizations who filed a statement from the administration of the enterprise, nothing has changed, and the perpetrators of the beatings were not punished.
Moreover, all protest-minded workers of the region were subjected to repression and intimidation. To suppress a possible new struggle between local residents and former participants in the 2011 strike, which during the past, 2019, organized rallies and rallies in the Mangistau region demanding employment of the unemployed and increasing the minimum wage in service companies, which does not reach 150 thousand tenge ( local currency of Kazakhstan) – the authorities of Kazakhstan threw hundreds of fighters of elite special forces of the local police. Translated into international currency, it will be only about 350 dollars; which, given the current economic crisis and the high cost of everything, especially housing and communal services, is a penny that you can survive on, but it’s absolutely impossible to educate and dress children, as well as rely on medical assistance. Especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Just at the time that the materials were being collected and this article was being published, protests by Kazakh oil workers working for the Chinese company Buzachi operating LTD, which is developing the Buzachi field in the Mangistau region, are taking place. Protesting workers demand treatment and medicine for more than a hundred of their fellow workers who are in quarantine. They live in a small dormitory, not suitable for medical care. But neither the authorities of Kazakhstan, nor foreign employers are in a hurry to satisfy the demands of the protesters.
Against this background, the persecution of the trade union leader from the city of Shymkent, Erlan Baltabay, against which a criminal case is still being fabricated with the participation of representatives of the “pseudo-union” created by the special services of Kazakhstan and registered by the authorities, continues. Last year, Erlan Batabay was already sentenced to 7 years, then he was granted amnesty. Now he is again convicted of non-payment of a fine for 6 months in prison. Now he faces a new arrest and the courts, initiated by the regional prosecutor’s office with agents and representatives of repressive, law enforcement agencies of the state.
Also, criminal proceedings were instituted in Almaty against an elderly woman, Sahib Zhanabaeva, an activist of the Solidarity Workers’ Movement of Kazakhstan, for participating in illegal rallies and unregistered associations.
In this situation, the plans of the power structures of Kazakhstan do not include easing pressure on trade union and worker activists. And those amendments that lawmakers made to the law “On Trade Unions” do not in any way alter its anti-worker nature. New amendments to the law on “Trade Unions” the state also took into account articles that impede the creation of independent trade unions. More than 600 local and local unions have been liquidated since 2014 in court as a result of this law, which contradicts many ILO conventions, and activists of closed associations have been unsuccessfully trying to create new organizations for several years.
In this regard, workers’ activists and independent trade unionists in a semi-legal position must reach a new level in the struggle for the rights of workers. To do this, we begin an information campaign of solidarity with the labor movements of Kazakhstan, supporting their demands:
– Satisfaction of all social requirements of the disabled and injured as a result of the shooting of a rally of striking oil workers in December 2011. Employment of all unemployed residents of Zhanaozen and Mangistau region!
– Investigation of the fact of torture and beatings of the unemployed leader Yerzhan Yelshibaev in the colony of the city of Lenger in the Turkestan region, bringing to justice the guilty of the staff of the institution, as well as his immediate release!
– Termination of prosecution against one of the founders of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan Yerlan Baltabay, as well as the closure of the criminal case fabricated against Sahib Zhanabaeva!
– Bringing the law “On trade unions” in line with international covenants and treaties of the International Labor Organization, as well as the abolition of articles of the Criminal Code punishing citizens for participating in illegal strikes and trade unions!
It is worth adding to the above the following:
On July 9, 2020, Moscow police officers at a Kazakh embassy broke down a picket that was held by representatives of the communist organizations of Moscow (the Russian Communist Workers Party, the United Communist Party, the left-wing public “Venseremos”, “Work Control”, “Work Compass”) and the Eurasian Bureau They planned to hold the World Federation of Trade Unions in support of Kazakhstani workers. Their requirements now are as follows:
– Social obligations to all persons with disabilities and those injured as a result of the shooting of a rally of oil workers in December 2011.
– Employment of all unemployed residents of Zhanaozen and Mangistau region!
Investigation of the torture and beatings of the unemployed leader Yerzhan Yelshibaev in the colony of the city of Lenger and his immediate release! Holding liable guilty of the staff of the institution.
– The termination of prosecutions against one of the founders of the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, Yerlan Baltabay, and the closure of the criminal case fabricated against Sahib Zhanabaeva!
– And, finally, the abolition of articles of the Criminal Code punishing for participating in illegal strikes and trade unions!
On June 25, a picket of workers in Kazakhstan, which put forward these demands, was dispersed. Workers who were injured during the shooting of the rally nine years ago and are now unemployed have not received the slightest compensation for their crippled health.
The leader of the “Unemployed Movement” Yerzhan Yelshibaev is serving a five-year term in a fabricated case in the Turkestan region, where he is constantly beaten. Union leader Erlan Baltatbay “fell under amnesty”, due to which he managed to avoid a 7-year sentence for participating in public protests. However, last year his case was again “raised” regarding his participation in trade union activities, and now he faces a new trial. Sahib Zhanabaeva, a veteran of the Solidarity Labor Movement of Kazakhstan, has also opened a criminal case for participating in illegal rallies and unregistered associations.
The authorities of Kazakhstan are persistently and consistently increasing pressure on the labor movement, trying to deal with it, both through amendments to the Labor Law allowing criminal prosecution of workers for strikes and independent trade unions, and through the prosecution and arrests of workers’ activists.
The solidarity of the Moscow Communists and the Eurasian Bureau of the World Federation of Trade Unions, apparently, seemed to them too redundant. Before the start of the picket, an encirclement by police cars and police officers was created in advance of the Kazakh embassy. Participants in a single picket in Moscow did not even have time to declare their support for the working class of Kazakhstan, since the police officers, having checked the documents and assured first that everything was in order, unexpectedly started their detention. Alexander Zimbovsky, a journalist of the labor movement, an activist of the Worker Compass-OKP, was transferred to the police car without explaining the reasons for his detention. Representatives of the press and other participants in the failed picket first had to get a response from the police for a long time – where the detained activist was being taken to, and then people went to the Basmanny police department to find out the fate of the detained A. Zimbovsky. After which Zimbovsky, after taking an explanatory, was released from the police department.
The pickets of solidarity with the workers of Kazakhstan will continue next week. In general, Moscow is also troubled now, Delivery Club couriers are on strike, workers at construction sites and urban amenities complain about non-payment of salaries.
In the country, they are trying to close the last existing plants, such as the Perm Machine-Building Plant named after F.E. Dzerzhinsky, or Nizhny Tagil plant of metal structures. Therefore, only the general actions of workers, communists, civic activists, united by the tasks of preserving our industrial inheritance (its last vestiges), our labor rights (also largely curtailed); and armed with broad solidarity, will help us withstand this unequal struggle with modern capital.
E. Sidorenkova WC-info
Editorial Office “Worker Control”