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Workers Appeal To Kazakh President For Help

Irina Ruslyakova-Kupriyanova

Irina Ruslyakova-Kupriyanova

ALMATY -- Workers at the Almaty heavy-machinery plant have sent an open letter to Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev, asking him to keep the Soviet-era factory open, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

Trade union official Irina Ruslyakova-Kupriyanova told RFE/RL that a letter from a shareholder to the plant's management board is the reason for the workers' writing to Nazarbaev. In the shareholder's letter, a demand is reportedly made for the board to pay some $150,000 in rent for plant facilities.

The workers say payment of this sum could bankrupt the factory and leave some 800 people unemployed.

Trade union representatives say there have been other attempts to close the plant, which is reportedly co-owned by Nazarbaev's brother, Bolat.

In January, a decision to liquidate the factory was made at a shareholder meeting, but it was later canceled.

In their open letter to Nazarbaev, the workers say there are "no objective reasons" to liquidate the plant. They add that the real reason for closing the plant is because the property was allegedly sold illegally to a joint-stock company in May 2007.

Plant workers have suggested that the factory should be partially privatized.

Workers want to discuss the issue with Nazarbaev, Prime Minister Karim Masimov, and the country's prosecutor-general.

The plant's management has refused to comment on the workers' letter to Nazarbaev.