Almaty, 7 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - A Kazakh metal workers' protest march gathered momentum today after local residents and other regional employees joined the march in protest over months of unpaid wages.
More than 1,000 workers of Kentau city's Achisay Polimetal plant began a protest march a week ago, planning to cover mostly on foot the 900-kilometer distance to the capital Almaty. Police and Interior Ministry troops however blockaded their route near the southern town of Turkistan. Itar-tass said today the marchers threatened to storm the blockades unless the police removed them. The number of the protesters has already grown to some 2,000 after local residents and other regional employees joined the march.
The Achisay Plant workers have not been paid for some ten months. Our correspondent says the government owes the workers about $1.3 million in back pay.