On October 10, 2022, the Solidarity Forum of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan “Unity. Justice. Development”, dedicated to the celebration of the Day of Trade Unions of Kazakhstan.

The forum was attended by professional leaders of primary trade union organizations, regional Trade union centers and Industry trade unions of the country, international and social partners, as well as deputies of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

On this significant day, trade union leaders and trade union activists from all over the country gathered to sum up and outline goals and concrete actions for further implementation of the objectives of the Strategy of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2020-2025.

Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan Satybaldy Dauletalin, opening the work of the Solidarity Forum, set priorities for the trade union community to develop the activities of trade unions, as well as strengthen trade union unity and solidarity.

Speaking about the achievements of the trade union in recent years, Satybaldy Dauletalin noted the merits of each member of the trade union.

“In recent years, trade unions have made a significant contribution to the growth of citizens’ incomes. The greatest achievements during this period are noted precisely in those areas where the state listened to the opinion of trade unions, for example, in terms of a gradual increase in the minimum wage, the development of a methodology for calculating the MCI. Social partnership has significantly advanced in the regions. The President supported us. We insisted on the inclusion in the General Agreement for 2021-2023 of a number of norms that improve the situation of workers. It was possible to achieve unity and consolidation of the actions of the member organizations. International cooperation has been established, the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian Countries has been established and operates,” the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions listed.

The key social and labor priorities of trade unions are the creation of jobs, increasing incomes of the population and the development of social partnership, and the main challenge facing trade unions today is the restoration of social justice.

“Trade unions support the decision of the President of the country to introduce a luxury tax as an additional source of financing social spending. This is not only an economic necessity, but also an element of a fair Kazakhstan. Simply put, if the rich do not want a social explosion, let them share with the less affluent segments of society and pay for stability,” the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan said.

Satybaldy Dauletalin listed a number of important trade union initiatives to increase the real wage content, ensure healthy and safe workplaces.

The Chairman of the FTURK focused special attention on problematic issues in the development of social partnership, which, in his opinion, should give tangible results.

“Unfortunately, the mechanism of social partnership is not always used. For example, in practice, the position of the business has not changed much. Businessmen still seek to exploit workers by saving on their salaries. A full-fledged republican association of employers has not yet been formed. In such a situation, the role of the state as an arbitrator between business and trade unions should qualitatively increase. We consider it necessary to create a separate Ministry of Labor, which is obliged to solve strategic tasks for the coordination and effective management of the labor market,” says Satybaldy Dauletalin.

Along with this, the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions called further strengthening of legal services, support for the youth movement, as well as the development of international cooperation necessary conditions for improving the effectiveness of trade unions.

“The Federation will continue active cooperation with the International Labor Organization, fraternal national trade union centers, provide solidarity support to the actions and initiatives of the International Trade Union Confederation and develop the Council of Trade Unions of Central Asian countries. We will actively seek the ratification of the ILO Conventions, which are the basis for building a fair economy, expand the rights of workers and trade unions, and will monitor strict compliance with international labor standards in our country. And in their practical activities — to actively use the positive experience of national and international trade union organizations in protecting the rights and interests of employees,” assured Satybaldy Dauletalin.

In the light of the upcoming presidential elections of the Republic of Kazakhstan, the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions invited colleagues to determine a unified position of trade unions on further actions during the electoral period.

“Today’s Solidarity Forum is dedicated to another issue – the position of the Federation of Trade Unions in connection with the upcoming presidential elections of the Republic of Kazakhstan. We have never been indifferent to who will be the president of our republic. We, the trade unions, have a mandate to express and defend the views of trade union members on all important issues.  And to abandon this mandate of trust would be simply irresponsible. The person who will be elected president of our country should know the real state of affairs well, clearly see the prospects for the development of the country and understand how it can be achieved. He should be able to become a reliable defender of the state, the rights and interests of citizens, and respond in a timely and responsible manner to all the challenges of the modern world. I have already stated before the General Council my civic position on the presidential candidate and I believe that in the upcoming elections it would be advisable to support the candidacy of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev,” said Satybaldy Dauletalin.

The leader of the trade union movement recalled that the steps taken under the leadership of the President indicate his firm desire to improve the standard of living of the people.

“I think we have no doubt that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev not only hears the opinion of trade unions, but also listens to it. I have already spoken about the initiatives of trade unions, which were supported by Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, with the rank of president. It was during his leadership that a program was adopted to increase the incomes of the population, the minimum wage increased. And the implementation of the long–standing initiative of trade unions to develop a methodology for determining the minimum wage has recently become a reality precisely because the President publicly supported the position of the FTURK, it is necessary to give him the opportunity to transform these steps into systemic reforms and give them a stable dynamic,” stressed Satybaldy Dauletalin.

The Chairman of the FTURK believes that Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is the candidate who will be able to implement the trade union instructions formulated by the working people.

“And what is very important for us, he can implement our instructions without interfering in the internal life of trade unions, highly appreciating the independence of trade unions as a special public organization. The proof of which can be his firm position on preventing interference in the process of democratic elections of the chairman of the FTURK from the trade union environment in 2020, which excluded the vicious practice of state intervention in the internal affairs of trade unions.

In order to maintain the manageability of the socio-political situation in the country, it is necessary to systematically achieve the quality of labor relations. The situation in the social and labor sphere requires an immediate “maneuver” in the direction of the Labor Man. Without the activation of each employee, there can be neither economic growth nor development.

The economy, measured only in technology, barrels and tons, is inhuman. The economy, in which for many years there have not been implemented megaprojects (ФИИР, clusters, etc.) on the first line, is deformed. A fair Kazakhstan needs a fair economy.

First of all, the FTURK requires real steps by the state to increase the purchasing power of the population. To do this, it is necessary to further increase the real incomes of citizens, employees. In addition, the authorities, in our opinion, are obliged to take even more decisive measures to combat poverty. We are talking not only about raising the minimum wage, but also about creating specific mechanisms for annual indexing of salaries at least not below the inflation rate.

The country’s workers need fair pay for their work. Everyone is well informed – how much the company earns, how much the management receives, and in what favorable conditions they live. The situation when the income gap between the manager and the employee reaches huge proportions cannot be explained by stories about “unique specialists”. Yes, the real incomes of workers should grow in line with the growth of labor productivity. But together, both the government and the trade unions are obliged to ensure that labor productivity growth is carried out through modernization of production, new equipment and new technologies, and not at the expense of cheap labor and the working poor.

We believe that today it is necessary to strengthen the legislative guarantees of timely payment of wages in full. We believe that the existence of salary debts should be a serious reason for a negative assessment of regional akims.

Unfortunately, despite our common efforts, regular accidents at work demonstrate the disregard of the owner and manager of the enterprise for the life and health of the employee. Yes, sometimes the employee himself goes to the violation of safety regulations. But he does this not because he values his life a little. He faces a simple choice – either a low salary when following safety regulations, or a risk to health, but – money in the family.     It is necessary to qualitatively increase the material responsibility of the employer and even the owner for causing harm to the life and health of the employee. This is the only way to make business think about people.

In my speech, I tried to outline the main, but not the final list of trade union instructions to our presidential candidate.  I think that during the discussion in trade union organizations, this list should be supplemented.  It is the orders of workers that should become the basis for Kazakhstan’s social policy for the coming period,” the Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan concluded.

On behalf of the International Labour Organization, the Chief Specialist on Workers’ Activities of the ILO Bureau for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, Gocha Alexandria, conveyed congratulations to the Forum participants.

 “The institution of the trade union has been and remains the main tool in restoring justice, protecting and helping the humiliated, who must be heard and receive a fair share of what they are entitled to/according to the law, to achieve well-being, or even improve it, to give the opportunity to work and live in decent conditions. One of the things we should admire about real trade unionists, labor activists, is that they understand what people really face in a market economy. They feel it with their heart and are imbued with the soul, and only after that they pass to the intellect. Such people never deviate from the goal and go forward armed with knowledge and life experience,” the international expert said.

The main task of trade unions, according to him, is to create additional prerequisites for workers to demand dignity and respect in the workplace. As Gocha Alexandria stressed, the trade unions of Kazakhstan are confidently moving in this direction.

“Recent meetings and contacts with the government and social partners have given hope that the problematic issues will be resolved soon, which will open the way to full–scale cooperation with the ILO,” Gocha Alexandria summed up.

During the plenary session, professional leaders and social partners examined through the prism of building a New Kazakhstan the current aspects of the development of social dialogue, support for primary trade union organizations, current trends in labor protection, as well as the involvement of young people in trade union activities. And on the sites of panel sections, in the light of modern challenges, measures to ensure safe work and issues of positioning of modern trade unions were discussed.

The participants of the section “Modern challenges and solutions: zero injuries” noted that despite the decrease in occupational injuries by 2%, the problems of maintaining unfavorable working conditions, insufficient attention to the certification of workplaces, etc. have not lost their relevance.

In order to intensify work to ensure safe work, the participants proposed to define in the Labor Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan the norms for the mandatory creation of industrial safety and labor protection councils for medium and large businesses.

It is also recommended to actively use innovative programs and technologies to ensure occupational safety on the example of IISS (Integrated Industrial Safety System) projects and the ASPANS platform. In addition, the need to establish a decent level of remuneration for employees who actively promote measures to improve the state of safety and labor protection was noted.

The second section, devoted to the topic of positioning modern trade unions, developed a number of recommendations aimed at forming a positive public opinion in the interests of workers, drawing public attention to the problems that trade unions seek to solve.

Following the results of the panel sessions, the Forum participants adopted a resolution on urgent measures to improve the welfare of employees.

The professional leaders expressed support for the Federation’s desire to improve the well-being of Kazakhstanis by ensuring decent pay and labor safety, adopting fair laws, increasing the effectiveness of social partnership and the correct positioning of trade unions.

The participants of the Forum also expressed their solidarity regarding the support of the candidacy of the incumbent President of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev in the upcoming elections. The Forum participants consolidated a single decision in the Resolution “On the actions of the FTURK in the electoral campaign of autumn 2022”.

“The Forum participants are convinced that the candidacy of Kassym-Jomart Kemelevich Tokayev for the post of President of the country meets our requirements and hopes. We appeal to all members of the trade union to show an active civic position to participate in the elections and vote for a worthy candidate!”, the text of the Resolution says.

The professional leaders expressed confidence that one of the fundamental ideas of Kassym-Jomart Tokayev’s election platform will be initiatives to improve social policy and improve the welfare of citizens.

Media Center of the Federation of Trade Unions of the Republic of Kazakhstan