TBILISI, DFWatch–Three people were detained in Tbilisi on Tuesday during a protest in response to a mining accident that took four lives earlier the same day.
The protesters from student group Auditorium #115 and trade union activists gathered in front of the government building to demand that the government do more to protect workers from dangerous workplace conditions, a problem that has claimed many lives in recent years.
A crew of miners fell down into a nearly four hundred meter deep shaft in a coal mine in Tkibuli, a mountain village in the Imereti region a few hundred kilometers west of the capital.
Family and relatives of the miners were assembled outside the Tkibuli mine waiting for updates, as were colleagues and rescue workers. The bodies of the four were later recovered.
The mine belongs to Saknakhshiri, which is owned by Georgian Industrial Group, a holding company also involved in energy, real estate and other sectors like brewery business and transport – and also runs the European School in Tbilisi’s uptown Saburtalo district, according to the company’s webpage.
Labor rights activists have long been demanding that the government do something to enact a viable labor protection mechanism.
The labor inspectorate was dissolved in 2006, officially due to corruption, but as part of a policy of then President Saakashvili to attract more investments by removing regulation.
There has since been a steady stream of horrendous workplace accidents especially in the mining industry. During the last nine years, 416 people have been killed and 716 gravely injured in the workplace in Georgia, according to the Georgian Trade Unions Coalition.
In 2017 alone, 11 people have died in the workplace and the trend continues to grow, GTUC chairman Irakli Petriashvili told Kommersant radio.