From the TUC

Kazakhstan unions need our support

30 Dec 2016, By

The TUC has joined a campaign launched by the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) to call on the government of Kazakhstan to respect the rights of workers in the country to form and join trade unions of their choice, in line with international law, following a series of government interventions to deregister the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CNTUK), and to stop individual unions from obtaining registration. We’ve written to the Kazakh Ambassador, and you can send your own message through LabourStart’s e-petition.

After an extremely lengthy delay, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions (CNTUK) – the national centre which recently affiliated to the ITUC – was registered in February 2016. Trade unions at sectoral level faced similarly lengthy and burdensome registration procedures. Some unions received more than 25 rejections, none justified by law, before their request for registration was granted. At branch level, unions in various cities, such as Almaty, Aktau, Aqtobe, Uralsk, Kokshetau, and Taldykorgan were refused registration often due to simple grammatical errors in application documents.

These examples demonstrate that the formalities prescribed in the legislation are applied to delay and discourage the formation and establishment of trade unions. Most recently, the Ministry of Justice brought a legal challenge before the Economic Court calling for the revocation of the registration of not only the CNTUK but also its affiliated unions representing health and domestic workers. The revocation of their registration would make any trade union activity illegal for the organisations concerned leaving their members without representation. It is even more frustrating that these actions were undertaken despite direct commitment of the Ministry of Labour to the ITUC and to the ILO that no union would be deregistered or dissolved.

The failure of Kazakhstan to guarantee the right to freedom of association has been examined by the ILO Committee of Experts and by the Committee on the Application of Standards at the International Labour Conference in 2015 and 2016. Both committees have urged the government to amend sections 10 through 15 of the Act on Trade Unions regarding the registration of trade unions. Your government has yet to act on this or any other observations or conclusions although the ILO offered technical support which was formally accepted by your government.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady wrote to the Kazakh Ambassador:

“We are extremely disappointed to see the obstacles trade unions in Kazakhstan encounter in practice when exercising their rights under international law. We call on you to convey to your government our call for the immediate withdrawal of the pending complaint before the Economic Court, and to urge them to ensure that workers have the right to establish trade unions without previous authorisation.”

Please take the LabourStart action and encourage your colleagues, friends and family to do the same.