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Strikes In Kazakhstan's Restive Zhanaozen Widen Amid Wage, Conditions Complaints

Kazpromtekh workers went on strike on July 22, joining other oil-sector workers demanding better wages in Zhanaozen.

ZHANAOZEN, Kazakhstan -- Workers at another company in the southwestern Kazakh town of Zhanaozen have launched a strike, demanding a salary increase amid a series of labor issues in the restive town.

More than 100 employees at the Kazpromtekh company started the strike on July 22, making it the 11th company to be hit with labor strife in recent days.

Kazpromtekh provides transportation services to the Ozenmunaigaz oil company, one of the major oil operators in the Central Asian country's energy-rich west.

One of the strikers at Kazpromtekh, Beknur Zhumaqaliev, told RFE/RL that the company's workers wanted their salaries to be increased by 50 percent.

"Our salaries have been the same for the last 10 years," Zhumaqaliev said.

The director of Kazpromtekh, Omar Amantaev, was not available for immediate comment.

Also on July 22, street cleaners at the Tazalyq-S cleaning company told RFE/RL that they joined other company employees, drivers, and loaders, who began a strike four days earlier. They are demanding a salary increase and improved working conditions.

Since the beginning of July, workers at three companies linked to the oil industry in the town, as well as workers at an the ambulance center in Zhanaozen, have had employers meet their demands following strikes.

The Kazakh authorities have been very sensitive to any dissent or protests in the volatile town, where police fatally shot at least 16 people while repressing protests by oil workers in December 2011.

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