One thousand eight hundred workers at the Burgylai oil wells at Zhanaozen, Kazakhstan are on strike demanding the nationalisation of their plant and that the government take emergency measures to stabilise the economic situation in the country, stop mass sackings and guarantee the payment of wage arrears.
by Socialist Resistance (CWI Kazakhstan) reporters
Unable to get the agreement to start negotiations on these questions, 14 members of a independent workers' trade union at the plant launched an indefinite hunger strike. The authorities are trying to isolate the strikers and maintain an information blockade. The trade union leaders are being pressured by the local government administration and the 'special police' to end the strike and to prevent it spreading.
Huge pressure is being put on Daniyar Bespaev, one of the workers' leaders. However, workers in another 10 oil fields carried out a one hour solidarity strike on the 26 March in support of the Burgylai workers and sent delegations to meet with them. So far, the only political group that has supported the strikers, apart from Socialist Resistance (CWI Kazakhstan), is the (pro-capitalist) opposition party 'Azat'.
Other political forces and the official trade union federation are silent on the issue and, in effect, ignoring what is potentially a historic strike. For the first time in post-Soviet Kazakhstan, workers have united together from below, around the slogan of nationalisation and are actively fighting attempts to cease plant production. These demands are gaining popularity in Kazakhstan and other workplaces are discussing taking action using similar demands. Socialist Resistance Kazakhstan appeals to all trade union, socialist organisations and activists to support the strike.
Please send urgent messages of support to the Burgylai strikers to