A court in Kazakhstan on May 16 sentenced a labour union leader at the Oil Construction Company (OCC), Amin Eleusinov, to two years in prison after convicting him of embezzlement and of publicly insulting, assaulting and refusing to obey a state authority representative.
Eleusinov was arrested in January when hundreds of OCC workers went on a two-week-long hunger strike to protest against the shutdown of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Kazakhstan (CITUK). The justice ministry accused the confederation of failing to confirm its status as a national union within six months of its registration in accordance with a 2014 restrictive trade union law. The law imposes burdensome registration requirements on trade unions that do not respect internationally protected workers’ rights to organise.
A Kazakh economic court on January 4 ordered the permanent closure of the independent trade union body.
Following labour strikes in the oil town of Zhanaozen in western Kazakhstan, which ended in clashes that killed at least a dozen people in December 2011, the government promised to improve labour relations and “modernise trade union institutions.”
Human Rights Watch argued in November that the Kazakh authorities, instead of introducing the promised changes, imposed burdensome registration requirements on trade unions as well as requirements on mandatory affiliation with higher-tier unions that stand at “stark odds with internationally protected workers’ rights” to be able to freely organise. The shutting down of CITUK continues this trend.
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