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Ten days on strike

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, February 24
Georgian coal miners of the western Tkibuli region have now been on strike for ten days; their main demand is an increase of their monthly salary.

The workers stress that despite the fact they have to work in very hard conditions without meeting minimal standards of hygiene, health protection and safety, their principle demand remains their pitiful salary.

Their employer, the GIG company, is the nationís only coal producer, and the sole owner of economically-important Georgian coal mining assets, namely the Tkibuli-Shaori and Vale coalfields.

It is responsible for extracting the coal, enriching it and then selling it. Under current extraction licenses, 407 million tons of coal deposits are at the company's disposal.

Extraction volumes amounted to 350 thousand tons of coal in 2014, the companyís webpage reads.

Currently, the company leadership says that due to problems on the foreign market, they have no financial resources to increase salaries.

Meanwhile, Eliso Chapidze, a Georgian Dream (GD) majoritarian MP from Tkibuli whose father was also a coal miner, says the problem can still be settled through negotiations.

However, her speeches and comments revealed that she could not reach a consensus with her own team members over the minersí problems.

Chapidze says that Tkibuli should be granted the status of a mountainous area, which will partially settle the problem, as workers will receive supplements for their low salaries; for over a year the government has been subsidising low salaries in low-income 'mountainous areas', though Tkibuli had this status revoked for unknown reasons..

Ignoring the lack of safety standards in the mines is shameful for a country whose people earn a salary of 400-500 GEL salary despite the fact that their work endangers their lives. In addition, this wage is not even enough to feed a family of four for one month.

The development of the economy should not transcend the protection of labour rights.