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Kazakhstan: free unionism is now either a criminal or administrative offence

22 September, 2014IndustriALL Global Union expresses its deep concerns about recent developments in Kazakhstan after the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences was adopted in July this year limiting freedom of trade union activities.

Coming into effect as of 1 January 2015, these acts opened the possibility for the government bodies to intervene in trade union activities, while restricting the possibility of strikes, meetings and street protests.As a matter of fact, at the beginning of September 2014, the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (KSPK) has submitted to the Committee of Experts of the International Labour Organization (ILO), a critical analysis of the newly adopted national law "On Trade Unions", seriously limiting the opportunities for trade union movement of the country.

Already at the stage of consideration as a bill the law "On Trade Unions" was gravely criticized by the international trade union movement and the International Labour Organization. Despite that the law was adopted by the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan in June this year.

The review makes a detailed analysis of the articles of the law related to the freedom of internal trade union activities, such as the ability of trade unions to define own structure, put forward demands and realise their right to strike as well as the problems regarding the union registration by the state bodies, reorganization and liquidation. In particular, the law makes it difficult to exercise the union right to push forward demands to the employer and to strike.

In accordance with the law the sector trade union should be established by not less than half of the total number of employees or organizations in the industry, or should have structural subdivisions in more than half of the regions, cities of national significance, as well as in the capital, which can lead to even greater trade union monopoly at the enterprise and sector level.

“This recent legislation is very worrying and appalling, particularly when it is coupled with earlier happenings” said Kemal Özkan, Assistant General Secretary of IndustriALL Global Union. “Kazakhstan is a critical country for the jurisdiction of our global union, and we will continue to give support democratic unionism in the country”.