After four days on strike, Tbilisi’s yellow bus drivers held a meeting with Tbilisi’s Transportation Service Management on November 11 at City Hall. The aim of the meeting was to discuss the 16 item demands of drivers. The main demands on the list were to increase the drivers’ salaries and improve their working conditions. The meeting did not yield any results.
Bus drivers’ strike continues
By Keti Arjevanidze
Monday, November 12
At the meeting, Georgian Dream majoritarian MP from Gldani, Soso Jachvliani, also attended. During the meeting, the 16 item demands were reduced to one– the resignation of Akaki Jokhadze, the head of Tbilisi’s Transportation Service and Levan Koplatadze, the chief of Tbilisi’s Transportation Company. The drivers stated that if Jokhadze and Koplatadze resign, they would end the strike.
According to Soso Jachvliani, the bus drivers are giving them 12-hours to satisfy their demand; otherwise, the financial side of City Hall will be examined by the “appropriate services and they will check, coin by coin, what it happening here,” Jachvliani stated.
On the meeting the issue of planned, artificially created chaos in the city by the previous government was also discussed. “The members of the previous government want chaos in the city, but they will not have it,” said Jachvliani.
Akaki Jokhadze, the head of Tbilisi’s transportation service stated after the meeting that from the 1st July of the current year, all the drivers had their salaries increased.
“With regard to salaries and an additional increase from the next year, Tbilisi City Hall depends on the transfers given by the central government, if the amount of transfer gives us an opportunity to increase the salary, we will hold negotiations with the drivers about it,” said Jokhadze.
Tbilisi City Hall released a statement on Saturday where it apologized to the citizens of Tbilisi, because of the temporary obstacles in transportations. According to the statement from the 16-item demand, 15 have technical characteristics and the transportation company satisfies them.
According to the announcement, the resignation demand of the head of Tbilisi’s Transportation Service and the chief of Tbilisi’s Transportation Company has a political feature. ”We appeal to political parties not to use drivers for their political aims, because from this only the residents of Tbilisi suffer. Aside from political parties, the announcement appealed to the drivers as well, saying that drivers should start constructive dialogue with the management of the company.
The oppositional wing in Tbilisi City Assembly also commented on the issue. They stated that the neglect from City Hall might provide a picture of all types of transportation’s protest in the city.
Tbilisi City Assembly’s oppositional factions appeal to the city Mayor to study the drivers’ case immediately in order to avoid transportation obstacles in the city.
The Metropolitan Union does not exclude the strikes of metropolitan’s employees. Metropolitan workers have established a 12 item demand and presented it to Tbilisi City Assembly, included in the demands are to improve the working conditions and increase salaries. If the demands are not satisfied, the metropolitan employees do not exclude the possibility of a strike.
Giorgi Khitalishvili, deputy of the Metropolitan Union said “if our and yellow bus drivers interests in some cases will intersect each other, I do not exclude our protest as well.”