abusesaffiliationarrow-downarrow-leftarrow-rightarrow-upattack-typeburgerchevron-downchevron-leftchevron-rightchevron-upClock iconclosedeletedevelopment-povertydiscriminationdollardownloademailenvironmentexternal-linkfacebookfiltergenderglobegroupshealthC4067174-3DD9-4B9E-AD64-284FDAAE6338@1xinformation-outlineinformationinstagraminvestment-trade-globalisationissueslabourlanguagesShapeCombined Shapeline, chart, up, arrow, graphlocationmap-pinminusnewsorganisationotheroverviewpluspreviewArtboard 185profilerefreshIconnewssearchsecurityPathStock downStock steadyStock uptagticktooltiptwitteruniversalityweb
Article

7 Jan 2022

Author:
Airnur Kurmanov,
Author:
International Viewpoint

Kazakhstan: Oil workers at the heart of protests, stuck in poverty as their foreign employers profit

Protests in Kazakhstan: A Color Revolution or a Working-Class Uprising? 7 January 2022

...Mass protests broke out immediately after the New Year holidays, on January 2. The reason for protests was the rise in price of liquefied gas for cars, from 60 tenge to 120 tenge per liter. The first unsanctioned demonstrations began in the west of Kazakhstan, in the Mangistau region, the heartland of large oil-producing enterprises. It is here that the notorious Zhanaozen is located, where ten years ago a workers’ strike was brutally suppressed: 15 strikers were killed and hundreds injured...

The workers of Zhanaozen were the first to rise [in this year's protests]. An increase in the gas price served only as a trigger for the popular protests. After all, the mountain of social problems has been accumulating for years. Last fall, Kazakhstan was hit by a wave of inflation. It should be taken into account that products are imported to the Mangistau region and they have always been 2-3 times more expensive there. But on a wave of rising prices at the end of 2021, the cost of food rose even more, and substantially. We must also take into account that the West of the country is a region of solid unemployment. In the course of neoliberal reforms and privatization, most of the businesses there were shut down. The only sector that still works here are the oil producers. But for the most part, they are owned by foreign capital. Up to 70 percent of Kazakhstan oil are exported to western markets, most of the profits also go to foreign owners.

There is practically no investment in the development of the region: it is an area of total poverty and poverty. And last year these enterprises began to undergo large-scale optimization. Jobs were cut, workers began to lose their salaries, bonuses, many enterprises have turned into just service companies. When in Atyrau region the company Tengiz Oil fired 40 thousand workers at once, it became the real shock for the whole Western Kazakhstan. The state did nothing to prevent such mass layoffs. And it should be understood, that one oil worker feeds 5-10 family members. Dismissal of a worker automatically condemns the whole family to starvation. There are no jobs here except for the oil sector and sectors that service its needs...

The protests of the workers in Zhanoazen and Aktau then set the tone for other regions of the country...

Timeline