Union activists face new repression and attacks in Kazakhstan

Union activists face new repression and attacks in Kazakhstan

Please join the LabourStart campaign and call upon the Kazakh authorities to put an end to persecution and violence against independent trade union leaders, and ensure freedom and safety for trade union activities in the country.

The Fuel and Energy Workers’ Union is a former member of the independent trade union centre, Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (KNPRK), now banned by the authorities.

Seniyavskiy was alone in his garage repairing his car when a group of people entered and attacked him in the evening on 10 November 2018. The union leader was hospitalized in the city of Shakhtinsk with a head injury, arm fractures and numerous bruises on his face and body. Earlier, he received threats by phone and someone broke windows in his house.

Independent trade unions believe this attack is related to Senyavskiy’s union work, since the threats against him started after he attended a conference organized by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC). The case was reported to the police.

Earlier, on 25 September 2018, the authorities put forward a trumped-up criminal case against Erlan Baltabai, leader of the Fuel and Energy Workers’ Union. Other independent union leaders before Baltabai, including KNPRK chair Larisa Kharkova, remain subject to criminal charges, based on interference by the state in internal trade union affairs, in violation of ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association.

In 2017 Erlan Baltabai visited the ILO International Labour Conference and spoke about anti-union repression in Kazakhstan.

The attacks happened just before an international union mission represented by ITUC, International Union of Food Workers (IUF), the Confederation of Labour of Russia (KTR) and Norwegian union Industri Energi, an affiliate of IndustriALL, visited the country on 13 to 15 November.

The mission visited Kazakhstan in light of numerous violations of union rights for freedom of association, particularly due to closure of independent trade union center KNPRK at the beginning of 2017, and followed reprisals against its affiliates and trade union leaders.

In April 2018, Industri Energi awarded the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights, to the independent trade unions of Kazakhstan.

Kemal Özkan, IndustriALL Global Union assistant general secretary, said,

“IndustriALL Global Union condemns these recent brutal and heinous attacks against trade union leaders in Kazakhstan. Earlier we supported the nomination of Kazakh independent unions for the Arthur Svensson Prize, and we will further extend our solidarity support to the entire independent trade union movement in Kazakhstan.”

We expect from the authorities a quick and thorough investigation and punishment of those implicated in the crime against brother Senyavskiy. We also demand an immediate end to repression against Erlan Baltabai and other leaders of independent trade unions, including Larisa Kharkova.”

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