Industrial relations in Kazakhstan’s oil sector (1991-2019)

Sorbello, Paolo (2021) Industrial relations in Kazakhstan’s oil sector (1991-2019). PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
Download (1MB) | Preview


The objective of this thesis is to determine the extent to which the influence of transnational corporations into Kazakhstan’s authoritarian law-making and labour practices has had an effect on worker disenfranchisement.

The case study aims to plug two niches: labour processes both in Kazakhstan and in the global oil sector are understudied. The social sciences scholarship on Kazakhstan has concentrated on its post-Soviet legacy, on its macroeconomic dependency on oil exports, and on its authoritarian transition. Political economy studies of the oil sector have focused on its effect on a country’s budget and democratic fabric, while anthropologists have explored the peculiar aspects of “living around oil.”

This dissertation enters a conversation with the scholarship that studies the relationship between workers, companies, and governments. Yet, rather than approaching the topic from a strict Industrial Relations standpoint, it follows the “lifetime” of the worker across the topical moments of hiring, working, and outstaffing.

This study argues that both private oil companies and government institutions have devised specific strategies to cut their costs, both material and immaterial, and increase their control over their worker-citizen in Kazakhstan. Legal instruments, such as Labour Codes, or corporate intermediaries, such as manpower agencies, have worsened conditions for the workers. In addition, the thesis shows processes of co-optation of trade unions, which were undermined through adverse legislation and political pressure, and the repression of independent labour actions.

In the in-depth analysis of the case of Kazakhstan, financialisation and precarisation are shown to be complementary catalysts of corporate and state policies against labour.

This work offers a novel framework that could be replicated in other oil-rich contexts, where the peculiar dynamics in the hydrocarbon sector have triggered an increased precarisation of the workforce.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Anceschi, Dr. Luca
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82271
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2021 15:01
Last Modified: 15 Jun 2021 14:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82271

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year