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10 May 2023

Yelena Weber, Azattyq

Kazakhstan: Workers of Kazakhmys copper smelter protest for better working conditions; incl. co. comments

In Zhezkazgan, plant workers demand better working conditions. "Kazakhmys" announced the "resolution of issues", 10 May 2023

[Summary translation prepared by Business and Human Rights Resource Centre]

In the Ulytau region of Zhezkazgan, dozens of workers of Kazakhmys Smelting copper smelter (part of the Kazakhmys group) who had come to their night shift, stopped works to voice their demands.

Today, according to the workers, they started work, but the initiative group of workers was waiting for a meeting with the company's senior management for the negotiation process.

“The most difficult conditions are in this workshop, there are sulfuric acid vapors here, it affects health,” one of the workers told RFE/RL, who asked not to disclose his name in order to avoid possible pressure.

The workers listed the following requirements: improve working conditions and equipment; raise the salary; increase the annual bonus and restore quarterly bonuses in the amount of wages; pay sick leave in the amount of 100 percent; increase the calendar days of paid vacation; introduce a different work schedule; return the supplement for the length of service; reduce the retirement age; terminate the employment contract with employees who have reached the age of 63; provide free treatment at the company's medical center for employees and their families.

An Azattyk correspondent turned to Kazakhmys for comment. They were first told that the company was clarifying the information, and a few hours later they asked to send an official request. After Azattyk's request, the company sent a response in the form of a press release.

“On May 9–10, a meeting was held between the leadership of Kazakhmys Smelting LLP and an initiative group of workers from the Zhezkazgan copper smelter. During the meeting, a number of issues and proposals were discussed to improve working conditions, work schedule, labor intensity of work, and the like. Issues were resolved at the meeting at the level of management of Kazakhmys Corporation LLP. To date, all work at the plant is being carried out as usual,” Kazakhmys said in a statement.

The company did not specify which issues were resolved...