Negotiations between the employers and the trade union representing our workers over the implementation of pay coefficients for regional and dangerous work broke down when the employer used security guards and the police to prevent our elected representatives, including the union’s lawyer Natalia Sokolova, from participating in the work of the arbitration board.
Following a short hunger strike in early May, thousands of workers engaged in an industrial strike battle. The employers have been assisted by the courts and the police. Hundreds of the strikers have been sacked. Two of the union’s elected negotiators, Natalia Sokolova and Akzhanat Aminov, at the request of the employer, have been arrested and Natalia Sokolova has already been sentenced to six years in jail on charges of “stirring up social conflict”. No defence witnesses or independent experts were allowed by the judge during her trial. The house of another of the negotiators was subject to an arson attack by unknown persons. Now, one of our leading activists, Zhalsylyk Turbaev has been murdered.
The conflict has been going on for more than two months. The strikers and their families protest outside the gate of the employers every day under the searing sun. Now, because of the lack of wages, the economic position of the strikers and their families is getting worse by the hour.
At the present time, we are demanding the restoration of negotiations. Our only conditions are that our lawyer, Natalia Sokolova, and trade union activist, Akhzanat Aminiv, are immediately released from prison, and that all those workers who have been fired are reinstated on their former contracts.
We call on all trade unions and worker activists in Kazakhstan, Russia, Europe and the world to support our just demands and organise a campaign of solidarity. We very much need your help and support, because the employers, together with the state are trampling on our rights at work, they are trying to destroy our right to trade union representation. Our leaders and elected representatives are sitting in jail, and a whole number of other activists are facing criminal and administrative charges. Hundreds of strikers have now been sacked.
The workforce is determined to fight to the end. With your support we will be much stronger and we can overcome the resistance of the employers and the state that supports them.
Help for strikers and their families urgently needed
We have established a special fund in Kazakhstan to provide support for the strikers’ families and especially children, with the new school year just weeks away. We have no resources even to support the strikers and their families with day to day necessities.
The management of the fund is being overseen by a committee of well known cultural figures from Kazakhstan, including :- the editor of the Kazakh language paper “Zhas Alash”, Ryspek Sarsenbayev; the internationally renowned artist, Kanat Ibragimov; theatre director, Bolat Atabaev; president of the “Leave our homes alone” campaign, Yesenbek Ukteshbaev; trade union activist, Igor Kolov; vice-president of the All-Republic “Zhanartu” trade union and president of the Kazakhstan Socialist Movement, Ainur Kurmanov; civic activist, Bakhit Tumenova and writer and poet, Mukhtar Shakhanov.
We have agreed with Paul Murphy, Member of the European Parliament, from the Irish Socialist Party, that he assists in raising money from the international trade union and workers’ movement and that he has subsequently opened a bank account to which donations can be sent.
The details of the account are:
Workers’ Solidarity Fund
IBAN BE29 7340 3242 2964
All donations will be acknowledged.