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International trade union mission to Kazakhstan

The international trade union movement are standing together for trade union rights in Kazakhstan. The Arthur Svensson foundation and Industri Energi will take part in an international mission next week.

Irakli Petriashvili from ITUC receives the 2018 award on behalf of the independent trade union movement of Kazakhstan

Earlier this year the independent trade union movement of Kazakhstan was awarded with the Arthur Svensson International Prize for Trade Union Rights. The justification for the award was the severe government repression of union rights and the persecution of union leaders such as Larissa Kharkova. The confederation of independent labour unions (KNPRK) has also been banned by a court ruling.

The head of the Svensson foundation Andreas C. Halse is worried about the current development regarding trade union rights in the republic of Kazakhstan.

- We were glad to see that several union leaders was released from prison during the spring of 2018. However new court procedures have been initiated against Larissa Kharkova and Erlan Baltabai, leader of the independent energy workers union. We are deeply concerned about the limitations in the freedom to organize, the crackdown on independent unions and the failure of the government to comply with ILO conventions, says Halse.

The lack of freedom to organize is one of the major concerns for the international union mission visiting Kazakhstan next week.

The Svensson foundation and Espen Løken from the Norwegian energy and industry union Industri Energi are taking part in a delegation that also includes Anton Leppik from ITUC-PERC, Ivan Milykh from the international food workers union (IUF) and Boris Kravchenko from the Russian union confederation KTR.

The delegation will be in Kazakhstan from November 13 until November 15. The delegation will meet with various Human Rights defenders in the country, but also wishes to reach out to the government.

Andreas C. Halse says that they have invited the government to talks about the union situation, but have received no interest in dialogue. He concludes that:

- We want to get a thorough impression of the human rights situation in the country and are eager to listen to all perspectives. We hope to be welcomed be the authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan and will keep our arms open if they decide to meet with us.

Frode Alfheim is the president of the Norwegian energy and industry union and the head of the Arthur Svensson prize committee. His message to the union heroes of Kazakhstan was very clear during the ceremony in Oslo this June.


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