5 – No guarantee of rights
The ITUC Global Rights Index

Kazakhstan

The ITUC affiliates in Kazakhstan the
Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CNTUK)
and the Federation of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (FPK)

In practice

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Authorities monitor the President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Union of the CNTUK during her trade union activity01-03-2016

In March 2016, Larisa Kharkova, the president of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan (CNTUK), has denounced the fact that she faced surveillance by Kazakh authorities even during a work trip in Aktau in the western part of the country. She reported that the authorities followed her activity day and night, especially during the meetings she had with local trade unionists during which she was also photographed by the security agents standing close by. This surveillance is in line with the harsh anti-union climate that has been spreading in the country since a controversial trade union law was introduced in 2014. Therefore, it is clear that the Kazakh Government intends to undermine freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and create a climate of hostility in which it is very difficult for trade unions and their affiliates to carry on their activities and freely advocate for workers’ rights.

Ministry of Labour denies registration to the independent trade union of the Oil Construction Company providing specious motivation 28-04-2016

On 24 June 2015, the Oil Construction Company trade union started the process of re-registration in accordance with the new trade union law introduced in 2014, but their request was denied multiple times. In October 2015, the trade union contested the Ministry’s denial in Court, but the judge ruled in favour of the Ministry and confirmed the decision in the appeal judgment.

Being unable to re-register the existing trade union, the Oil Construction Company trade union tried to register a new union. However, the request has been denied for several futile reasons on eight different occasions. Reasons given throughout the process included the use of the word “conference” instead of “council” or “congress”
and the intention of the trade union to affiliate itself with an international trade union, which is neither explicitly allowed nor prohibited by the law.On 29 April, the Ministry refused registration because the trade union used the abbreviation “profsoyus,” a short form for the Russian “professionalnii soyus,” (trade union). The Ministry repeatedly referred to the same reasons to refuse the registration of trade unions. This is what happened to a group of 10 miners in Zhezkazgan when they tried to register their newly formed union in late 2014. Their request for registration was denied on three occasions between February and March 2015, because the union indicated its intention to set up branch offices and because of the outstanding private debts of one of its members.

Thus, in most cases, registration was denied on arbitrary grounds undermining the right to freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
.

Two trade unions dissolved by a Court ruling04-01-2017

On 4 January 2017, as part of the continued attacks against freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
and basic trade union rights, a Court ruling ordered the dissolution of two trade unions, namely the National Healthcare Workers’ Union and the National Domestic Workers’ Union, both members of the Confederation Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CNTUK). Following the Court ruling, all CNTUK documents have been confiscated and the activity at national level has been paralysed.

The Court ruling had its legal grounds in the 2014 trade union law with its restrictive prerequisites in order for trade unions to be registered at national level, as well as a very biased and unclear process of registration at provincial level.

Two trade unionists arrested, while the creation and existence of trade unions is jeopardized in the country through the application of the 2014 trade union law20-01-2017

On 21 January 2017, two trade union leaders – Mr. Nurbek Kushakbaev, deputy chair of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CNTUK), and Mr. Amin Yeleusinov, chair of the CNTUK’s affiliate Trade Union of Oil Construction Company – were arrested because they called for a strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
action.

Mr. Yeleusinov and Mr. Kushakbaev decided to call for collective action in response to a decision of an economic court in the southern city of Shymkent that ordered the closure of the CNTUK by 4 February 2017 for its failure to re-register provincial branches in at least nine of the country’s 16 regions. Before the ruling, the court rejected the union’s request to postpone the hearing to allow the defence to prepare, and denied all motions by the union, such as to question witnesses.

The harsh ruling was, therefore, the outcome of discriminatory behaviour in the application of procedural law, and the enforcement of a prohibitive trade union law adopted in 2014, broadly criticised for being in breach of international labour standards international labour standards Principles and norms related to labour matters, primarily codified in the Conventions and the Recommendations of the International Labour Organization (ILO). Include core labour rights such as freedom of association and the right to organise, the right to collective bargaining and the right to strike, which are all covered by ILO Conventions 87 and 98.

See ITUC Guide to international trade union rights
regarding freedom of association freedom of association The right to form and join the trade union of one’s choosing as well as the right of unions to operate freely and carry out their activities without undue interference.

See Guide to the ITUC international trade union rights framework
. Under the recently introduced trade union law, unions are obliged to register in at least half of the country’s provinces within six months from their establishment at national level. In the case of CNTUK, the registration process itself proved to be biased. Indeed, more than 25 trade unions were refused registration on arbitrary grounds.

The refusal to register trade unions and to de-register CNTUK was denounced by several international observers as an “egregious violation” of internationally guaranteed workers’ rights. On 5 January, around 90 workers started a hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
to protest these decisions. The hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
rapidly spread and, by 17 January, almost 400 workers had joined the hunger strike strike The most common form of industrial action, a strike is a concerted stoppage of work by employees for a limited period of time. Can assume a wide variety of forms.

See general strike, intermittent strike, rotating strike, sit-down strike, sympathy strike, wildcat strike
at the Manghystau’s Qalamqas and Zhetybai oil fields.

Workers all over Kazakhstan are demanding that the ruling party - Nur Otan - registers CNTUK. However, Nur Otan’s regional branch is ignoring the request and denying having ever received any petitions from oil workers.

No justice for dead, imprisoned and tortured oil workers31-12-2015

Four years after police killed at least 16 demonstrators and injured 60 more in the oil city of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan on 16 December 2011, those who organised and instigated the crackdown had still not been brought to justice. After the events, only a few rank-and-file police officers who opened fire were jailed, and some local officials punished for corruption offences.
Trade unionists and human rights campaigners decided to use the fourth anniversary of the massacre, on 16 December 2011, to highlight their call for answers. Little had been done to identify those really responsible for what happened. Statements about the Zhanaozen killings by the Kazakh authorities contradict each other, contradict accounts by other witnesses, and are difficult to reconcile with video and audio recordings made on the day, said activists.
In the wake of the tragic events, 37 Zhanaozen residents were tried in April and May 2012 for their part in the oil workers’ struggle, and 13 of them jailed. The trial judge passed numerous, and well-documented, claims of torture, made in court, to the Mangistau district prosecutor’s office, which declined to open a criminal case citing a lack of evidence. The office did not explain why it chose not to exercise its investigative function.
Demands for an independent international enquiry, by the United Nations and international trade union federations, had still not been met by December 2015.

Copper company dismisses 15 labour activists01-07-2015

On 1 July 2015 Kaz Minerals PLC sacked Yerlan Tabynova and 14 of his colleagues from the Kazakhmys copper smelting and processing plant. They had been among the most active in voicing their anger at their appalling working conditions, including steadily falling wages and unsafe working conditions. Few workers at the plant reach retirement age, with two deaths a month and many workers suffering respiratory and coronary diseases. Kaz Minerals has consistently refused to listen to its workers’ complaints and clamped down on any attempt by them to represent their views in an organised way or fight for their trade union rights. If workers dare speak openly about their grievances, they are promptly sacked without due process.

Independent union denied registration25-05-2015

The Kazakh authorities refused to register the Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CFTUK), an alternative to the state-run federation of “yellow” unions, on 25 May 2015. The refusal to register the CFTUK, based on a number of arguments concerning the charter of the organisation, demonstrated how the legislation can be used to make it difficult for unions to gain recognition recognition The designation by a government agency of a union as the bargaining agent for workers in a given bargaining unit, or acceptance by an employer that its employees can be collectively represented by a union. , and came at a time when the government’s attitude to the unions was becoming increasingly restrictive.

Interference by employers31-01-2013

In January 2013, the Trade Union of Mining & Metallurgy Workers of Republic of Kazakhstan (TUMMWRK) reported that Kazakhmys, a copper mining company in Kazakhstan, is forcing TUMMWRK members to quit their union and to join the company-controlled one.

The company has also forbidden the sending of union dues directly from workers’ salaries to TUMMWRK’s account, completely paralysing the Kazakhmys branch of the union.

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