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Tbilisi Metro Still Closed Due to Workers Strike

By Tea Mariamidze
Wednesday, June 6
Tbilisi Metro is still paralyzed and closed as the protest of metro workers still continues.

It is unknown when the metro starts functioning again, as the workers claim the trike will continue until their demands are satisfied.

The main requirement of the workers is a pay raise by 45% and improved labor conditions.

According to them, they have the same amount of salaries as in 2013, adding that prices of products and utilities have doubled since then.

Early on June 5, the employees had a meeting with Tbilisi Mayor, Kakha Kaladze. The meeting did not show any results, as the workers left it in protest after the Mayor promised to discuss their salary raise only from 2019.

Trade union of metro employees – Unity 2013, says the City Hall does not have any plan or any proposal for them.

After the meeting, Kaladze went to Gldani Depot, where the drivers of the metro are on hunger strike. However, he could not reach any consensus with them.

On Tuesday evening, Public Defender of Georgia, Nino Lomjaria visited the protesters. According to her, May 21 decision of Tbilisi City Court, which prohibits the workers to strike in working hours, is not in line with the constitution, adding the right of strike is the constitutional right of every employee and worker.

“The Public Defender will prepare a court friend's opinion and submit it to the court, "said the Public Defender.

Lomjaria said the negotiations have no alternative as the situation is quite complicated. She called on the workers to somehow negotiate with the Mayor’s Office.

Metro workers went on strike on June 3 evening, which paralyzed the transport system in the capital the following days. In order to defuse the situation, the City Hall released a statement saying the buses are free and several new routes have been appointed until the metro is open again.

However, passengers say there are queues at the bus stops, adding it takes them three times more to get to work than before.

Opposition parties call on the Mayor to renew the negotiations with the protesters, adding the closure of metro, which used to serve 400,000 people every day, would cause crisis in the capital.

United National Movement (UNM) member, Zaal Udumashvili says the budget of the capital saw around 600,000 GEL loss since the metro stopped.

“The 600,000 GEL loss in the budget from the recent days, would be enough to raise the salaries of these people. I call on the City Hall to timely make decisions,” he stated.

Tbilisi Mayor has many times repeated he is not going to raise the salaries of metro employees. Kaladze says if he does so, the metro tariffs will increase, which will negatively affect the population.