The persecution of independent trade unions continues in the Republic of Kazakhstan. On February 5, 2021, by decision of Judge Kasharbekova A.U. of the Specialised Inter-District Economic Court of the City of Shymkent, the activities of the Sectoral Union of Fuel and Energy Workers were suspended for a period of six months. The Court decision has been appealed, yet high-ranking State officials speak of its coming into force even before the appeal was examined. This is the position explicitly expressed in a letter to the workers of Oil Construction Company, Ltd. dated February 10, 2021, signed by Akmadi Sorbasov, First Deputy Minister for Labour and Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
Earlier, the Ministry of Justice had been interfering, blatantly and for a long time, into the affairs of the Sectoral Union of Fuel and Energy Workers by refusing to register changes associated with the amendment of the Union’s Statutes, namely, the change of the legal address and the election of Kuspan Koschygulov as President of the Sectoral Union.
Meanwhile, President of the Sectoral Union Kuspan Koschygulov was invited to attend a video-conference organized by the Ministry of Labour on March 5 to address social partnership issues. Based on the results of that meeting, the Sectoral union said they were convinced the invitation had been extended with the sole purpose of creating the appearance of a social dialogue between the Government and independent trade unions for the benefit of the international labour community, a dialogue that simply is not there. The participants of the video-conference who represented other trade unions and the Government chose not to discuss the situation around the court decision to dissolve the Sectoral Union, yet again brushing it aside as a matter for the judiciary to deal with, nor did they tackle the main issue clearly pointing to the violation of the fundamental right to freedom of association by the Ministry of Justice.
So, the amendments to the Law on Trade Unions made in 2020 in response to the pressure from international organisations prove to be nothing but a matter of form and do not bring about any changes whatsoever in the repressive law enforcement practices established in Kazakhstan with regard to independent trade unions.