New case of intimidation of workers in "Georgian Railways"

On August 1 2017, without any notification, administration of the `Georgian Railways` (GR) has changed place of employment for three railway-workers – U. Khvtisiashvili, V. Tsiskarishvili and A. Charelashvili and workers who live in Kakheti region (Eastern Georgia). They were informed that henceforward they are transferred and obliged to travel to the capital - Tbilisi (150 km) on daily basis, from where they had to travel to Marneuli district (+45 km). All the transportation costs are supposed to be covered by the workers. The workers appealed to `New Trade Unions of the Georgian railways`. As an initial step, the Unions suggested the workers to exploit possibilities to negotiate with the GR administration and, if unsuccessful, to go to court.

All attempts to make a deal with the GR administration waned. Moreover, immediate supervisor abused the workers verbally while refusing any type of negotiations Head of GR Infrastructure Department, completely excluded any possibility to carry on negotiations with workers. It should be highlighted that it is a favorable method and practice of administration of the `Georgian Railways` aimed at diminishing number of its employees, being applied for many years. Currently, `New Trade Unions` has 5 identical court-cases ongoing against the GR.

As a result, having considering the fact that court cases, as a rule, are very protracted in time and very expensive, in order to avert substantial financial problems for their families, the workers decided to go on a hunger strike. `New Trade Unions` gave 7 days period to GR administration to solve the problem and announced the hunger strike.

On August 15, to workers - U. Khvtisiashvili and V. Tsiskarishvili went on a hunger strike. Despite the fact, instead of launching the negotiation process, GR administration disseminated false accusations against the Unions, assessing the process as politically motivated.

Having launched the strike, Georgian police interfered violently and destroyed a tent that workers set to stay at nights. Administration of the President of Georgia, Office of the Public Defender of Georgia and local NGO’s have called the Ministry of Interior to allow the participants of this peaceful action to set the tents, though police deprived the workers of this possibility again on day 4 of the hunger strike.

’New Trade Unions of the Georgian railways’ appealed to court with a request to accept this case in accelerated way.

On day 2 of the strike, after medical examination, doctors demanded to move V. Tsiskarishvili to his home on the ground of serious failing of his health conditions, where family members and himself, became a victim of permanent oppression and intimidation by the GR administration. As a result of non-stop oppression, the next day, at the press-conference, GR administration demonstrated a document signed by V. Tsiskarishvili that he abandons the strike and retrieves all his earlier requests.

The fact that GR administration used to intimidate and threaten V. Tsiskarishvili became evident by the victim himself that instigated spontaneous solidarity action in front the GR administration building involving workers living in different regions of Georgia as well the other sectorial trade union members. 8 more people, including V. Giorgadze - leader of `New Trade Unions of the Georgian railways`have joined the hunger-strike. On the ground of officially published abuse and provocative statements towards the unionists, the protestors now also demand stepping-down from their positions of D. Tsaguria, press-speaker of GR and V. Khorava, Head of GR Infrastructure Department.

The protestors are determined to stand until satisfying their demands.

GR administration is officially stating its readiness to launch negotiations, though in practice, they are doing their utmost not to launch one.