Public Transportation Drivers Strike in Batumi

On the 12th of February, 2014, drivers of Batumi municipal transportation began striking after they warned LLC “Batumi Auto-Transport” that they would strike if the company failed to adhere to the terms of an agreement signed last year. This agreement stated that the drivers were to receive pay raises from 4 GEL an hour to 4.5 GEL, yet the establishment failed to raise wages.

The director of “Batumi Auto Transport”, Gia Loria blamed lack of raises on the economic situation as well as the company being forced to open new lines of service, meaning that money saved for the raises was utilized on the new lines. He also stated that the drivers were earning more anyway due to higher number of passengers.

The drivers also protested company’s attempts to delay collective agreement negotiations and their wages diminishing due to equipment failures. According to them, the warehouse was only stocked with essential but hardy parts that almost never broke down, forcing the drivers to buy the finesse parts on their own. The organization denied that these statements were true.

The GTUC Ajara Branch stood by the strikers throughout the whole of the ordeal. Even though the strike was announced ahead of time, it created a certain amount of discomfort for the local population, but the drivers persisted to the end.
The director of LLC “Batumi Autotransport”, Gia Loria, resigned on the 9th day of the strike, (which was also the 6th day of a hunger strike) thus satisfying the integral demand of the protesters. The drivers returned to their workplaces the following day and resumed work only after they had been promised that negotiations regarding pay rise would continue at the Batumi City Council and a decision on the issue would be announced in the first quarter.

This success was broadcast to the strikers in Kazreti industrial plant and the protesters of Tbilisi Firemen-Rescuers. It inspired them to keep pressure on the administration and increased their motivation. Today, by reaching successes in Batumi, our activists and members are pushing harder than ever to reach the same kinds of success in their own disputes. This strike has proven that if people unite, stand strong and endure, they can reach their goals and improve the lives for themselves and their friends, neighbors, brothers and sisters. Solidarity was the reason Batumi events ended in a union victory. It will be the power of solidarity yet again that will grant us victory in Kazreti and Tbilisi.