Kazakhstan: Foundry workers fight for nationalisation of factory

The struggle to defend the jobs and living standards of the workers at the Irtyishskii Foundry in Glubokii, near Ust-Kamenogorsk, in East Kazakhstan, has been stepped up and workers are appealing for support.

As in many places in Kazakhstan, the whole town relies on this only factory for its survival. The foundry was privatised and taken over by a corporation named ‘Kazakhmys’. The company had no intention of investing but immediately moved to strip the assets of the factory and close it down, so that it would not be in competition with other foundries owned by the company.

The workforce, led by the Workers’ Movement of Kazakhstan, has resisted every stage of the attacks and is now demanding the nationalisation of the foundry. The campaign has now become very concrete as from the 1 July the new management have attempted to begin the dismantling of factory equipment. The workers took the decision to prevent this by first blocking the railway so that the dismantling teams could not get in. An attempt by management to fire up one of the foundries ready for melting down scrap proved unsuccessful when it was discovered that thieves had cut the power cables. The workers have set up their own defence squads to protect themselves from the police and strike breakers. The local population is being kept involved by means of daily meetings in the town.

On the 4 July the situation was discussed at a meeting of the Cabinet of Ministers of Kazakhstan, where the option of allowing another company to take over the plant was considered. But the workers at the Foundry are not keen on that option either as they already have experience of how private owners are not interested in helping either the workforce or the town itself. That is why they still demand nationalisation.

The current owners are getting active support from the state. The police and special police, KNB, have already been actively putting pressure on worker activists. There have been threats to arrest the leader of the ‘Union of Young Workers’, Sagitovoi, and even though he has been invited to participate in a meeting of a Government Commission to discuss the Foundry’s future, the leader of the trade union, Ivan Bulgakov is facing imminent arrest.

Please send protests to the company:

Fax: 007-3102-768247 or email: purchase@kazakhmys.com

Please send copies and urgent messages of support to email address: ainur1917@mail.ru

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