Poti port on strike

In 2007, at the Poti Port, the administration of the company has destroyed trade unions, by using the methods of massive dismissals of the workers on the account of trade union affiliation, sealing the trade union office, applying the pressure, intimidation and harassment against unions. The case had been discussed by the committee of Freedom of Association of the International Labour Organization followed by critical recommendations urging the government to correct the existing situation there. However, the government did nothing to fulfill these obligations and the case is pending now in the European Human Rights Court in Strasburg.

The Dockers walked out on strike from 9-10 October in dispute over the use of contracted labour, paid 600 GEL (US$362) per month, significantly less than workers in permanent employment who earned 1000 GEL (US$603); both sets of workers have to purchase their own equipment. They were also keen to highlight the poor working conditions they have to endure.

Following intervention from the Trade unions, the employer agreed to enter into negotiations on the second day of the strike. The workers agreed to return to work on 11 October, after management said it would consider their grievances, including issues such as pay and working conditions.

In recent days, we have managed to reestablish trade union structure in the Poti Port Enterprise and about 200 workers have already joined union, as the process of unionization is being continued and more and more workers show their interest to join the newly created union primary organization. Having formed the union, the elected committee prepared a list of the demands from the administration and sent an official letter to the management asking to engage in the collective negotiations. Demands of the workers are: Increase of salaries accordingly the amount of the work they perform, improvement of working conditions at the work-places, immediate commencement of the collective negotiations. Unfortunately, the administration of the company ignores the demands of the unions and refusing to engage in the negotiations. Moreover, the management of the company tries to intimidate active union members, threatening them by dismissals and does everything to silence the union voice at the enterprise. The union is not going to withdraw their demand and will continue using all legal means to make the administration of the company to enter the negotiations.

Over 300 workers of Poti port have organized the warning strike today. The strikers’ demands have not been changed. They demand improved working conditions, job-based pay and labor contracts.

“Today’s warning strikes lasted for more than two hours. Our demands are unchanged. The administration has reacted and expressed the readiness to start negotiations, but we will see how the events unfold in following days. The motivation of the workers is being increased and more worker are joining to the newly established union structure’’- chairperson of the local united trade union Koka Sajaia said.

The strikers also claim that unless the management of the Poti port meets the demands of the workers the full-scaled strike will be staged on 1st of November 2012.