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Metro employees threaten to hold rallies

By Tatia Megeneishvili
Wednesday, March 2
Tbilisi Metropolitan employees held a rally demanding an increase in salaries and improving of working conditions on March 1.

Protesters were joined by an independent union of metro train drivers, Ertoba 2013. The rally was held in front of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Social Affairs’s Office in capital Tbilisi.

According to the leader of Ertoba 2013, Zaza Barbakadze, they addressed the Health Ministry with a letter.

“We demand an increase in our salaries as the Lari exchange rate dropped. We also demand remuneration according to the experience and different tariffs for night-shift employees,” stated Barbakadze.

Another member of Ertoba 2013, Rati Kapanadze, said that the average salary for train drivers is approximately 1050 GEL.

“Due to the GEL rate, we now receive lower salaries then before, which is why we are demanding a raise,” stated Kapanadze.

According to the protesters, they will wait for 21 days, and if government does not take any steps, they will strike again.

Both Mayor Davit Narmania and the Mayor’s Office claim they do not have recourse to increase the protesters' salaries.

"There are no unreasonable demands being made by the protesters. As a sign of solidarity, the administration will respond adequately. We will stand by them as far as possible,” said Narmania.

When asked about whether or not he will meet with the protesters, Narmania said that if necessary, his deputy curator will meet with the subway train drivers.

"The Mayor’s Office simply has no resources this year. We announced an important administrative resource optimization and it concerns every field of work. We have not cut down salaries, but I will repeat that we simply do not have the resources to increase salaries for any field,” stressed Narmania.

According to protesters, despite the rally, all metro stations continue to operate smoothly.