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Kazakh Oil Company Leaders Meet With Striking Workers

Top managers of KazMunaiGaz meet with striking workers in Zhanaozen.
ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- Regional government officials and KazMunaiGaz oil and gas company managers are holding talks today with striking oil workers in the southwestern town of Zhanaozen, RFE/RL's Kazakh Service reports.

KazMunaiGaz President Qayirgeldy Qabyldin visited the town on March 16 and held talks with the strikers. The two sides agreed to set up a conciliation commission to discuss the strikers' demands.

Union leader and striker Tabyn Ergenov told RFE/RL that the strikers elected 12 delegates to take part in the conciliation commission, which has begun its work.

Several thousand workers at OzenMunaiGaz, a KazMunaiGaz affiliate, have been on strike since March 4. They are demanding the replacement of the official trade union leader; the annuling of the decision to change the workers wage scale, which they say reduced their wages; cuts in their annual work output; and the resignation of OzenMunaiGaz's director.

The last demand was met on March 16 when OzenMunaiGaz head Baqytqali Biseken was fired.

Union leader Ergenov says the strike will continue during the talks within the framework of the conciliation commission.