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Tbilisi Mayor Speaks About Blackmail by Metro Drivers

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, June 5
(TBILISI) - Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze says that Tbilisi metro drivers are trying to blackmail the city leadership as they continue their strike launched on June 3, which resulted in suspension of metro on June 4.

Kaladze says that the main demand of the drivers, a pay raise by 45 percent, will not happen, as the Tbilisi Transport Company does not have enough money.

He says that the current salary of the metro drivers ranges between 1400-1,800 GEL.

“They transport around 400,000 people daily. Let them ask the people what are their average salaries,” Kaladze said.

The Mayor stressed that a raise of salaries is only possible if metro tariffs increase, which he is opposed to.

However, the employees say their salaries are not as high as the Mayor stated, saying say get around 1000-1200 GEL for their hard work under the ground.

The professional union of the metro staff Unity 2013, launched the strike last month.

However, the Tbilisi City Court postponed the strikes until June 3 and deprived the metro drivers from participating in rallies during the working hours.

On June 3 only the drivers went on strike at the Gldani depot in the outskirts of Tbilisi, who completed their working hours.

During the strike one of the metro employees said that he had worked for the Tbilisi Metropolitan since 2011.

“Six of my friends have died since then. Their age ranged between 40 and 60,” he said.

The strikers said that they had to work in higher radiation, which affected their cardiovascular system and lungs.

They also complained about worsened eyesight and hearing, which were caused by immediate moving from dark to daylight and permanent noise.

Some metro drivers are on hunger strike. They say they will not stop until their demands are satisfied.

Students’ movement Auditorium 115 has released a letter supporting metro employees, saying they will join the rally.

The movement says the metro staff deserves higher salaries than some City Hall employees.

“Metro workers spend more than half of their lives underground, in excessive noise, vibration, radiation and lack of oxygen…They transport around 400 thousand people per day. They really deserve more salaries for Tbilisi Vice-Mayors, Heads of Departments and Governors,” the statement of Auditorium 115 reads.