Speech by the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions Bakytzhan Abdiraiym

As reported earlier, on August 20, in Tokyo opened a representative program for trade union leaders around the world organized by the Japanese International Labour Foundation (JILAF).

We bring to your attention the speech of the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions Bakytzhan Abdiraiym within the framework of this program.

Dear Friends and Colleagues!

         On behalf of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan, let me say welcoming words to you and thank the International Labour Foundation of Japan “Jilaf” for the invitation to visit Japan and exchange experience with Japanese colleagues on all-important aspects of work.

         In recent years, Kazakhstan has undergone changes in the legislative and economic environment that significantly affect the development of trade union movement and social and labour relations in the country.

         The current economic situation in the country, as a result of the slow recovery of economic growth after the global crisis, today still limits the financial opportunities of Kazakhstan’s government and business in the implementation of social policy and also has a strong impact on the labour market.

         We note with regret that for the third year in a row real salaries and the number of employed population are falling (employment has returned to the level of 2013, and real wages have sunk to the level of 2011). During 5 years more than 1 mln. jobs declined in agriculture.

         Internal labour migration from the rural areas to the cities as well as the external from Central Asia is growing (according to the International Organization of Migration in 2015-2016 the influx of labour migrants to Kazakhstan from neighboring countries amounted to more than 1.0 million people).

         The high level of the economy of the self-employed and unformed population (24% of the economically active population) supports the established labour market low wages (2 million workers or a third of the economically active population receive slightly more than 2 minimum wages – $171) and contribute to the outflow of highly skilled workers to the European part of the CIS and Central Europe.

         Historically, the specificity of Kazakhstan’s national commodity economy is the prevailing number of employees engaged in harmful and dangerous working conditions (is 1.79 million people or 20.8% of the total number of employed population Kazakhstan) in the mining and metallurgical and extractive industries.

         Insufficient automation of harmful industries and non-mandatory implementation of occupational safety management systems maintain a high level of professional risks, which significantly affect the working conditions and sustainability of permanent jobs.

         The current liberal labour legislation in Kazakhstan limits the participation of the State in the regulation of labour relations on the establishment of minimum labour standards, basic social guarantees and compensation and the exercise of control over their execution.

         Employers are given the opportunity to apply economic layoffs (in case of deterioration of the economic situation of the enterprise) and legislatively preserve the permissive nature of strikes, restrictions in holding and participation for individual categories of workers (air and railway transport, health care, communal sphere and continuous production).

         Today, the trade unions taking into account the current economic and legal conditions in the regional labour market and the prevailing social and labour relations in the country are reviewing their increased role in the economy and social policy of the country. Moreover, in order to perform effectively its primary function of protecting the legal rights and interests of workers in changing circumstances, they have focused their attention on strengthening competencies and expertise in their organizations

in order to:

  • to have sufficient expert and organizational capacity to participate fully in the assessment of labour legislation and in national discussions on the regulation of social and labour relations in the economy of the country.


—  to implement the programs on occupational safety and health, decent pay and condition of work, counteracting violation of labor legislation in enterprises and organizations with social partners;

  • actively to participate in the state programs of productive employment and protection of workplaces;

—  to use effectively the legal representation status and powers of trade unions at all levels of public and corporate decision-making concerning labour issues.

         Systematically updates and trains regional trade union leaders in the “School of trade union leadership”, along with the organization of legal study members of the primary trade union organizations (in the first half of 2018, FPRK held 29 seminars, trained 432 people including 16 visiting seminars and trained 292 people).

         In addition, trade unions have performed organizational  measures to consolidate and strengthen their ranks on a sectoral and territorial basis (in accordance with the law “on trade unions”). This gave the trade union movement significant political weight (as the most mass public organization of the country-more than 1.5 million members) and expanded opportunities both at the legislative level (participating in the preparation and examination of changes in the Labour Legislation, state programs of productive employment), and at the level of a specific enterprise (support of the Trade union center in cases when employers are not ready to solve social needs and problems of their personnel by means of conducting social dialogue and negotiations with legal representatives of the labour collective on the ground)

         To prevent and resolve labour conflicts on the places, FPRK has developed and signed a joint action plan with the Ministry of Labour and the Republican Association of Employers for the prompt response and support of the primary transnational (with directly to the enterprises). Thus, only in the current year FPRK joint actions with social partners managed to localize at an early stage mass labor conflicts in two large enterprises of the country with positive for workers resolution of the dispute by coordinating collective bargaining.

         Consolidation of the trade union movement around strong professional centers and presence of branched network in regions allows building effective partnerships on wide spectrum of social and labour relations with competent state and public organizations:

         With the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection of population (on the issues of joint rapid response to labour conflicts);

         With the Supreme Court of the Republic (on issues of conciliation and pre-trial settlement of labour and other disputes at the site of the territorial Unions of trade union);

         With the General Prosecutor’s Office (in respect of employers ‘ compliance with decent working conditions);

         With the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs (on issues of Biot, preservation of workplaces and labour standards), the ruling party Nur-Otan (to unite party and public control on issues of social and labour relations and social stability, etc.).

         In order to develop corporate social responsibility of business, ensure broad participation of workers in occupational safety and raise public attention to the issues of improvement of conditions and labour safety, trade unions initiated the Republican action “together raise the culture of prevention in labor protection” together with the National Chamber of Entrepreneurs “Atameken” and the Confederation of Employers of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

         The activities envisaged in the program are aimed at increasing the interest of employers in creating healthy and safe working conditions of employees and the development of the Institute of Public Control (by establishing jointly with employers Biot) in all enterprises and organizations. Therefore, as it is known, at the enterprises where there are joint bodies on occupational safety, industrial injuries happens much less, than where the implementation of measures on occupational safety is occupied only by the employer. This is confirmed by the results of a number of studies conducted under the auspices of ILO).

         At the moment, trade unions, by virtue of their position in the country participate in the consideration of most programs and initiatives of the state in the social sphere. In the composition of the Republican working groups together with the authorized bodies, develops and makes proposals on the change and improvement of labor and trade union legislation.

         In July this year, for the first time in the history of Kazakhstan, we held a meeting of the republican unions of the union of our Federation, Kazakhstan Confederation of Labor, and the Commonwealth of Trade unions of Kazakhstan “Amanat”. This iconic meeting was held to amend the Law on Trade unions. Amendments to national legislation are necessary to bring № 87 “On Freedom of association and protection of the right to organize” in accordance with the International Labour Organization Convention.

         These and many other our actions should allow us in the future not only to participate in the formation of the National Agenda for the development of society, but also to participate in decision-making outside the labour legislation at all levels of the state and Corporate governance in accordance with the best international practices of the social state.

         Thank you for your attention.”