“The government privatised us, now let them nationalise us. We are going to the end!”
Hundreds of workers at the ‘Y’ysty Coach Repair Factory’, in Almata, Kazakhstan, declared a one-week warning strike and called a mass demonstration for 11 July, which will be conducted jointly with ‘Kazakhstan 2012’ (a united front of social protest movements initiated by Sotsialisticheskoye soprotivleniye (CWI Kazakhstan)).
The workers demands remain the removal of the current management, the review of the results of privatisation and the full nationalisation of production. Even though wage arrears were recently cleared, the workers are insisting on returning the factory to state ownership, as the only means of saving jobs at the factory. The Joint President of the Strike Committee, Yesen Ukteshbaev, commented: “Our main demand is nationalisation. We have had time to compare the situation in the factory when it was in state hands and in private. We understand that there is no other way than to be nationalised”.
One worker activist, Nikolai, said: “We just want…normal conditions, proper wages and stability. But when the factory is in private hands, and they are trying to squeeze every last tenge [national currency] from the plant, the only means of defending our own is to strike and to put active pressure on the government. The government privatized us, now let them nationalize us. We are going to the end!” He is supported by Serik, a welder: “Yes, it’s time for workers to take things into their own hands. We have just the same rights to this factory than any owner, who think only about how to make profit. On top of that, the wages they pay – 20000 tenge a month (about 100 euro) is not enough to feed a family”.
Appeal for international solidarity
The workers are appealing for national and international solidarity. Sotsialisticheskoe soprotivleniye (CWI Kazakhstan) is setting up a ‘support committee’ to assist with the workers’ request for solidarity and to resist the attempts by the special services and bosses to threaten and coerce the workers. There have already been attempts to put pressurise on Yesen Ukteshbaeva, by organising a police search at his workplace.