Railway strike ends!

The eight day full scale strike at the railway has ended after intense negotiations. During the 2-3rd of December the negotiations between the railway administration and the Georgian Railway Workers New Trade Union continued for almost 14 hours and on the 3rd of December, at 7.30 in the morning an agreement was reached. The agreement was introduced to everyone in every region, every depot and every station and it was signed by GRWNTU President Vitali Giorgadze only after the strikers agreed to the compromise.

Georgian Trade Unions Confederation’s President Irakli Petriashvili’s made a large contribution in finding a mutually agreeable compromise and ending the strike by dedicating all of his time to the railway, as it is a strategic objective of the whole nation and is a necessity for every citizen.

The negotiation actors included Railway’s Supervisory Committee President Constatnine Guncadze and the General Director Irakli Bakhtadze among other directors. It is important to note that the balanced, neutral approach of the government was welcomed and was a positive step that helped in ending the strike.

The strike was conducted with high standards, the trade unions took great care in conducting the strike so that it would be done within the legal framework.

The agreement was a compromise, thus neither side will be fully satisfied, but the GTUC and their member organizations, together with the GRWNTU announced that this agreement will provide serious benefits to the railway workers.

So what did the unions achieve?

The demand of 100% wage rate 13th pay was not reached, however, the union agreed to a 50% of the wage as a compromise (this amount will be paid by new year, the original plan of the administration was to pay only 25%).

Guarantees were made by the administration to avoid possible wage cuts and layoffs after introducing the new salary scheme. The current wage of the railway workers are guaranteed and can only be raised rather than reduced.

A commission will be created that will be responsible for analyzing the new salary scheme and system of bonuses and providing recommendations to the supervisory committee.

A special commission will be created and be based on parity and comprise of representatives from railway administration and Georgian Railway Workers’ New Trade Union. This commission will be responsible for studying facts of abuse and harassment against the strikers pre-strike and during the strike and provide recommendation to the railway’s board of directors on forms of punishment (dismissal, demotion, financial sanctions and other disciplinary measures) that should be used on offending parties.

The new payroll system will introduce salary differences based on class and rank, and on January 1st, before the introduction of the 2015 salary system, the locomotive drivers will be ranked as one of 3 classes as class 1, 2 or 3, receiving additional the monthly remuneration of 5%, 10% and 15% (around 70-110-180 GEL). – also, driver’s assistants that possess locomotive driver’s license will receive 5% increases in pay. Finally, the new payroll system will anticipate this

Regrettably, nothing was reached on the overtime pay and normalized work hours due to the fact that the suit remains in the constitutional court at this time. The union hopes that the constitutional court will come out with a just verdict.

ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow sent solidarity letter to Irakliy Petriashvili, President letter of support and solidarity with striking railway workers in Georgia.

ITUC Solidarity with GTUC Railway Workers’ Union

Dear Brother Petriashvili,

Dear Colleagues

We have been keeping abreast of the courageous protest activities of the railway workers’ union and would ask you to convey to these brave men and women the ITUC’s appreciation and deepest solidarity.

During the last few years, we have witnessed the remarkable mobilisation of Georgian unions and their members for better wages, working conditions, and for their rights.
We salute the courage and determination your members continue to display in the face of cowardly threats and attempts at intimidation by the administration.

We stand ready to promote your just cause and to put our collective means at your service. Please be assured of our continuous support and solidarity.

Yours in solidarity

Sharan Burrow