The messenger logo

Unpaid salaries for the GEM Fest employees

By Tea Mariamidze
Thursday, August 17
People working at the Georgian Electronic Music Festival (GEM Fest) are going to file a lawsuit against the administration of the event, in case they do not get their salaries until August 18.

The employees have addressed a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), the Georgian Young Lawyers Association (GYLA), and asked them to protect their interests.

Jemal Chkadua, a lawyer of the GYLA’s Zugdidi branch, says that around 42 employees of the festival have not received their salaries from the GEM Fest organizers.

“As far as I know, the GEM Fest administration dismissed the employees without any explanations until the festival was over, so that the money was not paid to them. Later, when the festival ended, none of the employees received their salaries,” he added.

The lawyer says that the employees and employers signed a contract when they were hired which defines the date and amount of money to be paid to the employees.

“If the administration does not pay the employees, these individuals will appeal to the courts and start a formal legal dispute. If the compensation is paid, these individuals will withdraw the suit,” Chkadua said, adding that if the GEM Fest administration pays the employees before August 18, they will not file a lawsuit.

Giorgi Sigua, the founder of the festival, says the event turned out to be unprofitable.

In his Facebook post, Sigua explains that various factors affected the festival, such as bad weather, people becoming sick from drug use, and the tragic death of a 22-year old girl.

Sigua says the organizers of the festival have many debts in and out of the country, because the food and shopping facilities at the festival had no visitors and failed to operate effectively.

“We guarantee that we will pay debts to everyone,” the Facebook posts reads adding that organizers hope to implement profitable short-term projects for this purpose.

The month-lasting GEM Fest was conceived as a multiplatform festival – a vivid event in the cultural and social life of Georgia. It was held from July 14 to August 14 this year at the Black Sea town of Anaklia, in western Georgia.

However, this year the festival had many problems, as more than 20 people were taken ill from drug use and one died allegedly from a psychoactive drug known as “Bio,” also known as Gamma-Hydroxybutyrate (GHB), which has been seen increasingly throughout Georgia lately.

An investigation into the case is in progress and the exact reason of the death has not been confirmed yet.