Reporters in Kazakhstan
Following the weekend’s protest against the anti-trade union actions of the London based KazakhMys company, Zhezkazgan socialist and editor of the “Molodozhnaya gazeta” Berik Zhagiparov (see photo) has been arrested and sent to prison for seven days.
In the run up to the protest, the organisers received a number of phone calls from people working in the company to express support. They were invited to attend a meeting to protest against company attempts to make a number of miners redundant. However on approaching the venue they discovered the area was being held in a tight security cordon by the management’s guards. The security told them that they were aware that visitors were expected having listened in to the mobile phones of the organisers. Now it appears that it is not just the country’s political police who monitor the telephones.
Further attempts to undermine the protests were made by a delegation of “negotiators” who arrived in the city at the end of last week. Although no-one knows who actually appointed these “negotiators”, they claimed to represent a mythical organization called the “union of workers and unemployed from Almaty” set up by Madel Ismailov, formerly President of the “Workers’ Movement of Kazakhstan” but who then switched to working for the government. These negotiators claimed that there was a split between the two main organisers Sauli Seidakhmetova and Berik Zhagiparov and that there would be no protest as all the disputed issues had now been resolved.
However these actions did not prevent the protest taking place. The company has not changed its approach to harassing the trade union. It is also becoming clear that it is preparing to make a significant number of the workers redundant in the near future. Miners and enrichment plant workers will need a fighting trade union in the near future and despite the arrest of Berik Zhagiparov, activities aimed at establishing such a union will continue.
We call on trade unions, trade union activists and supporters to send protests demanding that KazakhMys ceases its anti-union activities. Please send protests to its media offices at: