Public Transportation Drivers Strike in Batumi

Batumi municipal transportation drivers went on strike. They demand that the director of LLC “Batumi Auto Transport” be relieved of his duties. An agreement that was signed last year stated that the drivers were to receive pay raises from 4 GEL an hour to 4.5 GEL, yet the establishment failed to adhere to the terms of this agreement.

The director of “Batumi Auto Transport” stated that the reason the drivers did not receive their raises was the fact that aside from being economic, the company was forced to open new lines of service and thus had to spend the money saved up on this project. He also stated that the drivers were earning more anyway due to higher number of riders.

The drivers are protesting the negation of the collective agreement; however, the organization has announced that they will not be able to appease their demands.

The drivers are talking about their wages diminishing due to bus breakdowns and the fact that the warehouse is only supplied with car parts that almost never break down, forcing the drivers to buy the parts on their own salary. The organization has denied that these events have taken place. Furthermore, one of the protest participants has stated that he was fired illegally.

The Ajara Trade Union Confederation president, Gia Loria, stated that the employer’s arguments lack basis and encourages them to keep in mind the interests of the employees.

The chairman of Ajara Trade Union Organization, Ilia Verdzaze has said that Aroshidze has overestimated his competence because his experience as a public servant does not mean he can run a business and has no right to interfere with the “Batumi Auto Transport”.

It is the second day that the strikers have been demanding pay raises, however the administration has yet to attempt negotiations. The drivers refuse to receive extra pay from ticket sales and want to move to a fixed hourly income. The participants spent the previous night on the “Auto Transport” territory.
Although the strike was announced ahead of time, a sense of discomfort was present among the passengers. The drivers are not planning to end the strike until their demands are met.