Five years after 17 striking oil workers were shot dead by riot police in Kazakhstan, trade union rights remain under severe repression in the country.
The Ministry of Justice in Kazakhstan has recently put forward a legal challenge calling for the revocation of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNPRK), and also its affiliated unions representing health and domestic workers. If successful, it would make any trade union activity illegal for the organizations concerned, and leave their members unrepresented.
The KNPRK only received its official registration in February 2016 after an extremely lengthy and delayed process. The Confederation belongs to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).
In the letter addressed to President of Kazakhstan, the ITUC says that the delay in KNPRK’s registration is not a unique case. “Trade unions at sectoral level faced similarly lengthy and burdensome registration procedures. Some unions received more than 25 rejections, none justified by law, before their request for registration was granted.”
A recently launched campaign to support KNPRK condemns the restrictions of the freedom of association and calls on the President of Kazakhstan to remove all barriers to the activities of trade unions in the country. IndustriALL Global Union continues to closely monitor trade union rights in Kazakhstan and backs the campaign.
In 2014, IndustriALL Global Union reported of the danger of administrative or even criminal prosecution of free trade unions in Kazakhstan after the adoption of the National act on trade unions. The Act came under severe criticism from the international union movement, as well as the International Labour Organization (ILO), which condemned the Act for limiting opportunities for trade union movement in the country.
“Our support for fundamental trade union rights and freedoms in Kazakhstan will continue,” said Kemal Özkan, assistant general secretary of IndustriALL Global Union.