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Update on the worker unrest in Georgia

by | Oct 25, 2012

TBILISI, DFWatch — The famous Georgian mineral water plant Borjomi is still paralyzed by strike, as railway workers and dockers are also warning of protest action.

Workers at Georgian Railway yesterday warned that they would stop the trains for a couple of hours, but trains are moving normally today.

Dockers in Poti, an important South Caucasian transit hub on the Black Sea, warned they are planning a massive rally on November 1 if their demands are not met.

Thousands of miners in the town Chiatura are still on strike for a second week. All mines and plants have been closed down.

Protests erupted after the results of the parliamentary election became known — that Georgian Dream gained victory. Workers decided to finally protest their slave-like conditions and demand appropriate salaries. They also demand to amend the labor code, which is too weak and does not offer them protection, while offering rights to employers.

More than 200 workers in the resort town Borjomi in southern Georgia are on strike claiming that the plant’s management first promised to increase their salaries, but later forced them to sign contracts, which involved not increasing their salaries at all.

The strike started a few days ago, when the management immediately stated that they would meet with protesters, but haven’t yet arrived to hold meeting with them.

Local media quotes workers reporting that 2-3 persons are being taken in the plant and are threatened if they do not stop rallies they will be fired.

The major problem for them is the humiliatingly low salary, which is below a what a family can survive on. It is 14 lari (USD 8) per day on average. They work 24 days a month.

The plant’s owner IDS Borjomi Georgia today appealed to employees’ sense of responsibility, as the plant has stopped working.

According to the statement, salaries in the company and benefits are adequate to the situation on the labor market. The statement informs that for the whole year employees were trained and retrained, so it is planned to increase salaries by 25 percent on average for #1 and #2 plant employees.

Number one plant isn’t working, number two is still functioning. Negotiations with employees was not suitable for number one plant employees, while in the other plant they agreed on 25 percent increase and they continue today working.

About 200 employees at Poti port organized a warning protest today with support from trade unions. Their demands are the following: better working conditions, appropriate salary and having labor contracts. If conditions aren’t fulfilled they plan large scale strike, starting November 1.

For two hours employees of Georgian Railway were on strike on Wednesday. It was also a warning strike after unsuccessful negotiations with management of the company. About hundred employees fully paralyzed the main depot; no train has left it for two hours.

After a warning rally railway administration appealed to workers saying they are ready to review future increasing salaries and to consider interests of employees.

No agreement has been achieved so far. The rail workers have asked for a meeting with the new economy minister to talk about their problems.

Today Georgian Railway works normally. They do not plan a rally before they have met the economy minister. They have stopped negotiations with administration.

Yesterday evening the economy ministry asked the rail workers to stop the strike.

The situation has not changed in the energy company Telasi, where workers demand that the commercial director of the company is fired, and that more than a hundred employees are given their jobs back. They also want increased salaries.

Malkhaz Ghoniashvili, chair of Telasi Trade Unions, is on a hunger strike for the third day demanding that Commercial Director Zurab Arsoshvili is fired. He left on an unpaid vacation as soon as the protests began.

Ghoniashvili today told interpressnews that the management of Telasi is considering firing Arsoshvili, but no further details are known.



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