In Appeals

Protest against the victimization of workers and activists

On Monday 28 September 2015 at 4pm, a protest will take place outside the London office of Kaz Minerals Plc, demanding action to alleviate the suffering of their workers and the victimisation of activists. 100 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 5JL

 

A letter has been sent to the Directors including the Chairman Vladimir Kim deploring their attitude towards the running of their mines and factories in Kazakhstan. A request has been made for a meeting with them while a representative of the workers has been visiting Britain. The constant reply from their offices was: “There is no one here at the moment but they know about your letter”!

 

 

Dear Vladimir Kim and other responsible people at Kazminerals PLC,

Berik Zhagiparov is here in London as a guest of the National Shop Stewards’ Network and individual unions who are supporting his efforts to talk to you about the grievances of the workers of Kazminerals PLC in Kazakhstan.

As you probably know, the once-thriving city of Zhezkazgan, in Kazakhstan’s industrial heartland, is now experiencing very hard times. This, the workers believe, is because of the somewhat negligent policy of “Kazakhmys” – the company on the basis of which the city has been built. They also feel that your company and its directors think only of making profits and not in investing in efficient and safe new machinery.

We wish to bring to your attention that, because the machinery and equipment are old, workers are getting life-threatening illnesses and becoming prematurely unable to work. Far too many accidents are occurring; every month, on average, two workers are killed working for your company in Zhezkazgan.

Nor does your company sufficiently remunerate its workers. Year by year, workers’ wages are reduced and the workers do not have enough to support their families.

Kazakhsmys, or Kazminerals PLC as it is now called, refuses to listen to its workers’ complaints and clamps down on any attempt by them to represent their views in an organised way or fight for their democratic and trade union rights.

We understand that the firm’s foremen behave very arrogantly, finding fault with what workers do over trifles. If the worker begins to speak openly about this this sort of thing they are illegally sacked without any court decision.

Workers of “Kazakhmys” are asking you:

1) Stop the persecution of labour activists. In particular, reinstate Yerlan Tabynova and stop the persecution of Maksat Esenbaeva.

2) Do not interfere with the self-organisation of workers; do not hinder the establishment of an independent trade union.

3) Prevent accidents at work. Create a public commission from amongst the workers to oversee measures to improve safety.

4) Raise salaries in line with the recent devaluations of the tenge which have left workers with a miserable level of income.

 

Yerlan Tabynova, the activist sacked in July, worked for Kaz Minerals on rail track maintenance.

The depot out of which he worked was a dilapidated building. When it rained the roof leaked. Like miners, he and his fellow workers would need to change their clothes before going home but there was no soap in the wash house and often no hot water in the shower. The radiators were leaky and all the pipes rotting. The place would be freezing in the winter.

Every day the track workers could have to walk 15 kilometres carrying heavy shovels, they would have a meal break from 12-1 but there was no canteen. They would take food to work with them in a jar.

The wage that Yerlan took home was 80,000 tenge per month, less than £200. When he first started in the job he was getting 140,000 tenge. As things got worse for the workers of Kaz Minerals – previously known as Kazakhmys – Yerlan and other fighters like Maksat Esenbaeva, have been more and more involved in fighting for better conditions at work and higher wages. They have been particularly angry about the lack of investment in equipment to establish safe working in the mines and factory. Few workers in the smelting and processing plant reach retirement age. There are two deaths a month on average and many workers suffer disabling respiratory and coronary diseases.

3000 workers are employed in the Kazakhmys copper factory. Two years ago they walked out in protest at plans to close their plant. For three months they occupied the central square of the city. The Nazarbayev dictatorship felt the risk to its survival of sending in armed police to crush the demonstration was too great and a decision was made to keep the factory open. But such has been the suffering of the workers that many cases have been taken against the company through the Courts. One of the latest has been to dispute the sacking of Yerlan and 14 other workers on the 1 July 2015.

The workers of Kaz Minerals Plc are calling for maximum international solidarity in support of their struggle which could be of major significance for the fate of the whole working class in Kazakhstan.

If you or your organisation wish to give support, please contact campaignkazakhstan@gmail.com