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Attitude of Kazakh citizens towards protests in Mangistau oblast - opinion poll

13 сентября 2011, 16:33

The Institute of Political Solutions made a mass survey in 16 largest cities of Kazakhstan: Astana, Almaty and 14 major cities of Kazakhstan’s oblasts. 2302 people spread out proportionally to the size of each city’s population were polled in July, 2011.


In summer 2011 several oil and gas companies operating in Mangistau oblast in the west of Kazakhstan were hit by a series of protests. The protester’s key demand was an increase in their wages.


Social protests of oil workers: extent of support

The survey showed that almost one third of the citizens of Kazakhstan are indifferent to the protest of oilmen in Mangistau oblast. “I don’t care” was the most popular answer among the respondents (28%). Astana residents are those who care the least: 57.2%.

Population’s support, non-support and indifference to the protests are pretty much the same: 27.7% support the protesters and consider their demands well-grounded, 27.9% of the respondents say that their wages are high enough compared to the average income country-wide. The most number of supporters are concentrated in the west of Kazakhstan (45.3%) and in Almaty (41.2). At the same time every third Almaty resident (31.7%) is discontent with the protests.


Attitude toward extreme forms of protests

The survey of attitude of Kazakhstan’s population towards extreme forms of protests (self-immolations, explosions and etc.) showed that 27% of the citizens see weak social policies of the government as the main reasons behind these protests. Western Kazakhstan is the region that supports this view the most: 50.1%. This view is almost twice as widespread there as it is anywhere else.  

Almaty residents think otherwise. The most widespread opinion there is that these cases are manifestations of human weaknesses in the face of circumstances – 40.2% say so. This opinion is supported by 25% of respondents nationwide.

Every fifth respondent thinks that these are dangerous precedents that can become models for people to follow (20.5%). This opinion enjoys the most support in the east (32.3%) and south (32.5%) and the least support in the north (16.1%) and in Almaty (17.6).   

The opinion that these cases could be protests against the existing political regions are least widespread in Kazakhstan: less than 15.5% of people think so nationwide. Strange as it may seem, the capital Astana has 30.6% support of this opinion.

© Institute of Political Solutions




Kazakhstan wrestles with striking oil workers

An unusual wave of strikes has swept energy-rich southwestern Kazakhstan where thousands of oil industry workers have been demanding higher wages, according to AFP.

Workers and their families in the southwestern Mangistau region on the shores of the oil-rich Caspian Sea sometimes resorted to extreme measures -- blocking roads, going on hunger strikes -- to be heard by their employers.

The strikes are unlikely to pose a threat to the government but are a rare event in Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan has been ruled since even before independence by Nursultan Nazarbayev who has turned his country into the most stable and prosperous state in Central Asia.

More than 100 workers at Ersai Caspian Constractor, a Kazakh-Italian joint venture serving the oil industry, have been on strike for almost a month since May 11. At its peak, the number of protesters reached 350 people, said the company's spokesman Adilet Adam.

"I was put into such a situation that I will stand until the end," said Vladislav Prokofiyev, a constructor at the Ersai.

Ersai, which produces pipe racks for the lucrative Kashagan oil field project, is owned by ERC Holdings of Kazakhstan and Italy’s oil and gas industry contractor Saipem.

On May 16, several hundred workers at Karazhanbasmunai Sino-Kazakh joint venture in Aktau went on strike, demanding a wage increase and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent trade unions in the region.

Many workers resent higher wages of educated outsiders -- be it workers from another country or management from another region in Kazakhstan.

"The resentment against better-paid foreign workers is not new, but clearly, this is on a different scale than previously," Svante Cornell, research director of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute, told AFP.

"I hardly believe it will grow a movement that could form a serious threat to the government. It is a challenge that it (the government) will need to find a way to respond to sooner or later," he said.

Six hundred out of 9,000 workers at the Kazakhstan's London-listed oil and gas firm KazMunaiGas Exploration Production's Uzenmunaigas facility went on strike on May 26, demanding a new system of payment be introduced.

The company has fired 200 workers for failure to turn up to work, said Mikhail Dorofeyev, a spokesman for the KazMunaiGas Exploration Production.

"The company believes that the demands of protesters are unfounded," KazMunaiGas Exploration Production said in a statement.

It said it had begun, in accordance with the labor code, dismissing striking workers, but added it wants to settle disagreements once everyone returned to work.

In March 2010, a 19-day strike at KazMunaiGas Exploration Production ended in an agreement between workers and employers.

"As a national company we have to meet demands set to us by the stockholder, which is to receive the maximum profit, thus paying more taxes and other payment into the budget," the chairman of the board of the state-owned KazMunaiGas, Kairgeldy Kabyldin said.

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