Authorities in Kazakhstan have unveiled some heartening news on the economic front with the announcement that 20,000 jobs are be created at the Tengizchevroil energy venture.
But that burst of optimism comes just as dozens of workers have reportedly gone on strike for higher pay at the very same project.
Deputy Labour and Social Protection Minister Birzhan Nurymbetov said on January 30 that the oil field joint venture, which is 50 percent controlled by US energy corporation Chevron, is an example of the government’s long-term investment agenda.
Foreign investments generated by this project have a multiplier effect and enable the development of business and the improvement of social wellbeing, Nurymbetov’s ministry stated in a press release.
“According to Tengizchevroil, [future expansion at the project has created] provides employment for 10,500 people — of those, 9,400 people are local staff, which accounts for 90 percent of all workers on the project in Kazakhstan,” Nurymbetov said.
Narymbetov said the government expect 20,000 more jobs to be created by expansion of the Tengizchevroil project, and that 18,000 of those jobs would go to Kazakhstani citizens.
“Tengizchevroil will assume the responsibility of teaching and training Kazakhstani personnel,” he said.
Workers would come from all over Kazakhstan, Narymbetov said.
But even as government officials are boasting of future job-creation, those already employed by Tengizchevroil are complaining that they are not paid enough.
Atyrau-based news website Ak Zhaiyk reported on January 28 that 120 employees of a services company at the Tengiz oil field are refusing to work until they are given a pay hike of at least 50 percent. Workers at the TOO Kentak Kazakhstan Technical Services began their strike on January 27, according to the report. Management at the company have reportedly said they are in talks with the workers and have offered them a 12 percent increase in pay.
Kentak Kazakhstan Technical Services performs electrical equipment maintenance duties at the Tengiz field and employs around 200 people on a rotation basis.
Authorities have reacted to the strike by initiating a prosecutorial probe. Prosecutors in the Zhylyoisk disctrict of the Atyrau region told RFE/RL’s Kazakhstan service, Radio Azattyk, that their investigations have not yielded any firm outcome.