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Workers in West Kazakhstan on strike against low wages

11 november 2014, 22:18
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Workers of KazStroyService in West Kazakhstan have staged a strike in a show of dissatisfaction with being paid 15-20 times less than their foreign colleagues, Tengrinews reports citing Uralsk Week and Moi Gorod.

Engaged in the construction of a gas processing plant on Chinarevskoye Field, 150 workers had decided they had enough on the morning of Saturday, November 8. They declared their strike was to last until their wages were increased.

"We are paid according to category, the bonuses are very small. We are appealing to the managers because we want to know why our salaries were so different - from 45 thousand to 75 thousand tenge ($250-$415). It is a very small amount of money. It is not enough. That's why we have come. We all need to feed our families," master workman Bisenov Bagdad said in an outrage.

"Everyone here is divided into categories: third, fourth, fifth. We want third and fourth category workers to be upgraded to the fifth category, so that we are paid at least 100 thousand tenge ($550). Two or three months ago they promised to raise the Index of Labor Distribution (ILD), but we are still waiting,” fitter Alpamys Orynbekov said.

“Let the authorities come and deal with this issue. The director came over and said that no one would get a rise: 'If you don’t like it, then leave,' he said. The site supervisor said the same thing. We are not paid for any harmful exposure allowances, though there are three flares here and we breathe gas day and night," he added.

The workers said that the contract specifying their wages were made dishonest. Some of them had signed blank contracts, while others had not signed any contracts at all.

"Here we have some Indian workers. I’ve asked them about their salaries. They say 1.2 million tenge ($6,600), and we are paid a penny," one of the strikers said.

But the director of the Uralsk branch of KazStroyService Rakhmetolla Aldamuratov said on Saturday that there would be no salary raise.

“Workers are striking because of the wages. But they get paid what is specified in their contracts that they themselves signed,” he said. Aldamuratov added that the strikers won’t be fired.

The striking workers demanded that the director came out to talk to them but he did not show up at the site.  

Two Deputy Akims (Vice-Governors) of Zelenovsky District Aslan Doszhanov and Amangeldy Tuguzbayev and Zelenovsky District Deputy Prosecutor Zakaria Saraleyev came to the strikers. They agreed that the workers would create an initiative group to put forward their demands, while the officials would try to address those issues.

KazStroyService is a big construction company engaged in oil and gas engineering, industrial construction, infrastructure and offshore construction. The website of the company says that its annual revenue is $1.5 billion and the workforce numbers 15 thousand. 

Deputy Prosecutor Zakaria Saraleyev assured that the Prosecutor’s Office would inspect the economic activity of the enterprise and find out the true cause of low wages, Uralsk Week reported.

The next day, a manager from the head office of the company came to talk to the workers.

“On Sunday, the head office manager came,” a worker named Beken said. “We all received a raise of 13,000 tenge ($72) to our salaries.” Beken confirmed that all the workers went back to work after that.

According to Nurlybek Kusanov, a master worker ay KazStroyService, the decision to end the strike was reached on Sunday, November 9, and on Monday the strike was over. 

"The Chairman of the Union came, he told us that the salary would be recalculated and on Monday the money will be transferred to our accounts. Today (the conversation took place on Monday morning on 10 November) we have all gone back to work,” Nurlybek Kusanov said.

The director Aldamuratov told Uralsk Week that the conflict was settled for now. Zelenovsky district deputy Akim Aslan Doszhanov told Moi Gorod that the director of the Ural branch of KazStroyService confirmed the increase of wages to the workers. But as for the precise figures and other work conditions, they remain to be seen.

“Their tariff rate will not change. Now we have paid them “rotational” money in the amount of 27 thousand tenge ($150) additional to the wages that they have received. Now the workers are satisfied, they all returned back to work,” Aldamuratov said.

By Dinara Urazova


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