Free Nurbek Kushakbayev! Support independent workers’ organisation in Kazakhstan!

April 19, 2017

Trades unionists have launched an international campaign for the release of Nurbek Kushakbayev, who was jailed this month for his part in organising strike action in the western Kazakhstan oil field.

A court in Astana, the Kazakh capital, sentenced Kushakbayev to two-and-half years in jail, followed by a further two-year ban on organising.

Kushakbayev is a trade union safety inspector at Oil Construction Company (OCC), an oilfield service firm based in Mangistau, western Kazakhstan. He is also deputy president of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan, which the government banned last year under a law designed to straitjacket unions not controlled by the state.

In January, workers at several oil companies in Mangistau staged a hunger strike in protest at the ban on union federation, to which their workplace

Nurbek Kushakbayev, in the cage for defendants, and his wife, after the verdict. Photo by Radio Azattyk.

organisations were affiliated. Dozens of participants in the hunger strike were arrested. Most were released without charge, but Kushakbayev and another union organiser at OCC, Amin Yeleusinov, were arrested and Read the rest of this entry »

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Investors who profit as oil workers face repression

April 19, 2017

The companies that this month helped to jail trade union leader Nurbek Kushakbayev are linked, via Kazmunaigaz, Kazakhstan’s state-controlled oil and gas firm, to Chinese and international capital.

While workers in the western Kazakhstan oilfield suffer repeated waves of state repression – from the notorious police massacre of strikers at Zhanaozen in December 2011 to this year’s fines, arrests and bans on trade union organisation – investment funds based in New York and London profit directly from their labour.

Kushakbayev worked at the Oil Construction Company (OCC), an oilfield service company, where workers staged a two-week hunger strike in Read the rest of this entry »


Scotland: “We encourage everyone to speak, even if their voice shakes”

April 3, 2017

CATHY MILLIGAN is standing as an Independent candidate in the Glasgow City Council elections on Thursday 4 May, in the Linn ward. Here she writes about how Castlemilk Against Austerity, the community group she represents, is organising on one of the city’s largest housing schemes

I have always been politically minded, in that I think that how we live every day is dictated by politics and the powers that be. I was active politically when I was a teenager. I left school in 1979 when Thatcher came to power so there was a lot to be politically active about. But I wouldn’t say I have been active since – until the past five years.

In 2009 I lost my job due to ill health. I had to claim employment and support allowance, that really woke me up to how badly people on benefits are being treated. It’s horrible, and I am of the mind that no-one would

Castlemilk Against Austerity campaigners

willingly put themselves through this, which is contrary to the many TV programmes portraying the opposite to be true. Life on benefits is full of misery and despair. At one point I was left to live on £47 per week, for ten months.

I was too ill to fight it, and it really pushed me to the edge. I felt scared, alone, worthless. Thankfully, family and friends pulled me through it, but Read the rest of this entry »