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IndustriALL condemns mock trials of union activists in Kazakhstan

3 August, 2017IndustriALL addressed to the leadership of Kazakhstan demanding to influence the situation and review the unjustified court sentencing of Larisa Kharkova, Nurbek Kushakbayev and Amin Yeleusinov.

All three leaders were trialled because of the protests of striking oil workers of Kazakhstan’s Oil Construction Company (OCC). The workers fought against closure of their independent trade union centre Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNPRK) in the beginning of this year.

The most recent sentence was issued in regard to Larisa Kharkova, former chairperson of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNPRK). On 25 July, Kharkova, was sentenced, on false charges, to four years of restriction of her freedom of movement, 100 hours of forced labour, and a five-year ban on holding any position in a public or non-governmental organization.

Larisa Kharkova is prohibited from changing her place of residence and place of work. The union leader is banned from visiting certain places, and is not allowed leave her city of residence without authorization.

In his letter sent to the president of Kazakhstan IndustriALL general secretary Valter Sanches says, “We consider Larisa Kharkova’s sentence, as well as the previous sentences of Nurbek Kushakbayev, KNPRK deputy chairperson, to two and a half years of imprisonment, and the sentencing of Amin Yeleusinov to two years of imprisonment, as mock trials, which are in blatant violation of human and trade union rights in Kazakhstan.”

The unjustified punishment of Kushakbayev and Yeleusinov, as well as prosecution of Kharkova pushed the International Trade Union Confederation to submit a formal complaint to the ILO against violation of trade union rights in Kazakhstan. IndustriALL also joined the complaint.

In his letter Sanches also reminded about the international obligations Kazakhstan pledged to abide to, particularly the International Labour Organization’s Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise.

At the recent ILO’s International Labour Conference in Switzerland, in June 2017 Kazakhstan was scrutinized because of violations of the above-mentioned ILO Convention.

Based on the scrutiny the International Labour Conference issued a number of conclusions, including a call to the Government of Kazakhstan to:

  • “Amend the provisions of the Trade Union Law of 2014 consistent with the Convention, on issues concerning excessive limitations on the structure of trade unions which limit the right of workers to form and join trade unions of their own choosing;” and
  • “Take all necessary measures to ensure that the KNPRK [a.k.a. CNTUK] and its affiliates are able to fully exercise their trade union rights and are given the autonomy and independence needed to fulfil their mandate and to represent their constituents.”

At the end of his letter Sanches says, “it is incumbent upon your administration to restore justice in Kazakhstan by reviewing the court sentences of the above-mentioned KNPRK leaders, dropping all charges against them, and cooperating openly and honestly with the ILO and other relevant institutions to implement the ILO recommendations.”

Valter Sanches continues, “The failure of the Government of Kazakhstan to address adequately these violations of fundamental labour rights would force us to refer this question to other international organizations, including the European Union, which would seriously call into question the EU’s cooperation with your country.”