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Railway workers protest their working and salary conditions

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Friday, November 28
Workers of the Georgian Railway held a rally in different cities throughout Georgia on November 26. The railway employees are demanding the improvement of working conditions and the creation of a fair salary system. They pushed forward three main demands: the creation of a new, fair salary system, and overtime compensation.

Railway employees who held rallies in 2013 as well to protest their poor working and salary conditions stress that last year’s promises have not been fulfilled by the railway administration.

“Currently, they are trying to introduce a new salary system, presumably we have to pass some exams,” rally participant Gocha Abramishvili said. The protesters stated that most railway workers have a 350 GEL salary and the administration threatens them over their rallies.

Director of the Infrastructure Branch at Georgian Railway Guram Guramishvili said that the new salary system means an increase in salary.

“We are not going to decrease it for anyone. Just on the contrary. Salaries will be increased based on skills and experience. The salary budget will be increased up to 9 million GEL,” he says, and adds the workers are being misled.

The Georgian Railway Workers' New Trade Union (GRWNTU), which has been set up in support of the railway workers, stress that 60-70% of the railway workers were protesting in Tbilisi, Batumi, Samtredia, Kutaisi, Gurjaani, Gardabani and Zestafoni. One of the heads of the union Vitali Giorgadze stresses that they have been trying to reach a consensus with the railway leadership for years without any success. The protesters and the union warn about large-scale rallies in the case their demands are not met

Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili appealed to both sides to engage in dialogue.

At the end of the day, Georgian railway released a statement saying that there were nine points on the list of demands from the strikers and they achieved agreement on seven of them, while one of the issues is a subject for the courts. One point they were unable to agree upon.