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QARAZHANBAS, Kazakhstan -- The QarazhanbasMunai Oil Company in Kazakhstan's western Manghystau Oblast today fired eight workers from among the dozens who have been on strike since May 17, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

One of the striking workers, who asked not to be identified by name, told RFE/RL that the official explanation for the sackings was the workers' absence at work since the start of the strike.

The striking workers are demanding a pay rise and the lifting of restrictions on the activities of independent trade unions.

On May 24, Natalya Sokolova, a trade union activist at Qarazhanbas oil field, was sentenced to eight days in jail for participating in the Qarazhanbas workers' protests.

On May 26, 14 employees of another Manghystau energy giant, the OzenMunaiGaz Oil and Gas Company, started a hunger strike, and dozens of workers at two locations refused to go to work.

They are demanding the revision of the collective contract between the company and the workers and changes to the pay scale.

Read more in Kazakh here