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Kazakhstan: oil workers finally achieve union registration

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1 September, 2023After a strenuous two-year ordeal, the Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Industry Workers has managed to register a branch of its union in the city of Almaty. On 11 August, an order was issued to register a branch for workers in the fuel and energy sector. The order came after the union won a lawsuit against the minister of justice in the Republic of Kazakhstan.

There has been continuous pressure from the state regarding union activities in the fuel and energy sector.

In 2020, local authorities illegally closed a branch of the trade union in the Kyzylorda region. In February 2021, a court in Shymkent suspended the activities of the Industrial Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Complex Workers, affiliated to the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Republic of Kazakhstan (KNPRK), for six months.

The registration procedure is complex and serves to prevent the creation of free and independent unions. The registration of the local branch of Industrial Trade Union of Fuel and Energy Complex Workers in the Atyrau region was denied six times, each time for a new reason.

The justice departments of Almaty and Atyrau often suspend the registration process without any explanations or make claims of irregularities in paperwork.

The Kazakh trade union movement has been under oppression during the last decade, which has been strongly condemned by the international trade union movement and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

In June this year, for the fifth time in six years, the ongoing violations of union rights in Kazakhstan were brought before the ILO Committee on the Application of Standards (CAS) during the International Labour Conference in Geneva.

The Kazakhstan government continues to avoid fulfilling its obligations under ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organize. The anti-union actions weaken Kazakh unions, leaving many workers unprotected.

This registration is the first real step authorities have taken in fulfilling the demands of unions and the ILO. IndustriALL will host a workshop with affiliates in Kazakhstan to learn about the steps that they are taking to restore order to the country.

IndustriALL assistant general secretary, Kemal Özkan says:

“We applaud the union on this victory and their continuous battle to win back their rights. This is an important step for freedom of association in Kazakhstan. IndustriALL expects and demands further progress from Kazakh authorities. Our support and solidarity with the democratic union movement in the country will continue.”