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Chinese oil company attacks workers in Kyrgyzstan

9 September, 2015In an unprecedented union busting attack Chinese-owned oil company Zhongda, operating in Kyrgyzstan, has fired an elected trade union leader and blocked his access to the company in violation of the national legislation. Together with LabourStart IndustriALL is launching a campaign to reinstate the union leader and stop union busting.

On 29 August 2015 in an attempt to destroy the local branch of IndustriALL affiliate, the Mining and Metallurgy Trade Union of Kyrgyzstan (MMTUK), management at Zhongda dismissed union leader Zhanaydar Ahmetov without giving any reason. Management also instructed local security to block the leader from entering the enterprise.

At the end of August the management challenged the registration of the local branch issued by the Ministry of Justice, and took the case to court claiming that the registration was illegal. For more than eight months the company has refused to recognize MMTUK’s local organization.

According to the workers, the company also started calling relatives of union members who live in a small community where Zhongda is the main employer, suggesting they leave the union and threatening with potential dismissals. Under pressure, ten workers have already left the union. The union organizes about 350 of the 450 Kyrgyz workers in the refinery. The non-unionized Kyrgyz and 550 Chinese workers mostly hold management positions in the company.

IndustriALL addressed to the general director of the company and demanded that the violations stop and that dismissed union leader Zhanaydar Ahmetov is reinstated.

In solidarity with the union leader and Zhongda union members IndustriALL is launching an online campaign together with affiliate MMTUK and LabourStart. To support Zhongda workers struggle for their genuine fundamental rights follow the link below 


The union was created at the Chinese petrol company Zhongda because the company violated labour rights – management did not conclude employment contracts, excessively used temporary contracts without any legal ground, refused to pay extra charges and benefits, provide personal protective equipment, etc. 

Shortly after the union was created and duly registered with the authorities in December 2014, the union members' applications to deduct and transfer their membership fees were given to the company, as well as a letter calling for the start of collective bargaining. However, three months later, check off system has never been implemented despite promises by management and there has been no collective bargaining despite the union's demands.

In March 2015, an alternative union under management's control was established in the fire department of the refinery. Workers report that the management puts pressure on them to join the alternative union.

At the end of March, IndustriALL sent a letter to the general director of Zhongda and urged management to stop violating trade union rights and abide by national and international labour laws, including International Labour Organization (ILO) Conventions No. 87 and No. 98.

At the same time, IndustriALL also sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Kyrgyzstan expressing hope that the refinery would comply with the ILO Conventions ratified by the country and the legislation of Kyrgyzstan.

As a result of this campaign, the Ministry of Economy and the Government of Kyrgyzstan met in early April to discuss the activity of the Chinese refinery and its violations of workers' rights, including the right to organize, payment of wages, and health and safety.