National Sections of the L5I:

Solidarity with the Kazakhstani oil workers

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Striking oil workers in Kazakhstan have been massacred by riot police. A state of emergency has been called on the oil town, Zhanaozen, following the killing of up to 70 workers during recent protests.

Oil workers have been on strike since the summer and had occupied a square in the town, which police attempted to clear in mid December. Workers had been striking for the right to organise, better pay and the nationalisation of oil in a country ruled by Nursultan Nazarbayev, a Western-supported dictator.


Kazakhstan, like many central Asian countries after the fall of the Soviet Union, opened the doors to the market, allowing many private multi-nationals to profit from its relative oil wealth. Oil workers have very dangerous work conditions and in Kazakhstan have no right to organise in trade unions, which was one of the key demands of the movement in Zhanaozen, as well as better pay and the nationalisation of the oil industry. Sick of the profit driven nature of the oil industry - and in most likeliness inspired by the movements across the world in 2011 - workers had occupied a square in the town. It was last Friday when riot police entered the square to clear out the protest that clashes broke out. Hundreds of protestors and workers were injured, whilst a reported 70 were simply massacred. Some video footage has managed to get out, despite authorities shutting down all communication links in the area as part of a state of emergency. 


Nursultan Nazarbayev had ruled Kazakhstan during the Soviet Union, and in the post-Soviet world simply transferred his international allegience, and maintained almost total power. By opening up the relative rich oil resources to Western market piranas, Nazabavev has favoured profit over the needs of Kazakh workers. Chevron is one of the major profiteers of Kazakh oil, at the cost of the blood of Kazakh workers. The oil could help make the country of Kazakhstan richer, something that benefits all the people, but in the hand sof private profit it enriches only a small minority, as well as foreign multinationals.


Crucially, the oil workers are fighting for both immediate demands to better their own working conditions (for instance better pay and the right to organise) as well the all important demand to nationalise the oil industry. In a year of resistance and uprisings it is important for the working class across the world to support the Kazakh workers in their fight against international market capitalism.