Trade Unions’ protest rally at “Rustavi Azot”

On September 15, 2016 Georgian Trade Unions organized a protest rally in front of the administration building of “Rustavi Azot” LLC in Rustavi, Georgia. The workers of plant demanded: 100% payment of salary in case of compulsory delay caused by the employer (which is set by the Labor Code of Georgia), Merging bonuses and salaries (As it was a few years ago), mediating with banks for the purpose of postponement of credits until the plant will start producing again and growth of salaries.

Department heads did everything to ensure that people do not come out of the factory for participation in the protest rally. Workers were told that “who will go will be released immediately!” Despite of this more than 150 workers of Azoti took part in the rally. The representatives of the administration were observing a situation from the factory yard and did not even think to go up and talk with the workers about the arising problems. The action lasted for an hour and by the joint decision of the trade unions and the workers were beginning of official Collective labor dispute. Which means that, the administration of the company has to negotiate with the trade unions with the participating of a mediator assigned by Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia.

After the rally, the administration has decided to implement counter action and instructed supervisors to gather the workers at the main entrance because Roman Pipia – owner of the plant were going to make a statement. Several hundred workers organized by the supervisors were gathered inside at the main entrance. The chairman of local Trade Union organization Mr. Gela Bichiashvili tried to enter and attend the meeting but officers of Economic Security Department of the factory did not allow to enter the area, thus violated the Law on Trade Unions, which caused the conflict between Tamaz Dolaberidze - the president of Trade Union of Metallury, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia and the representatives of the administration. Afterwards Gela Bichiashvili and his deputy chairman were allowed to enter the territory of the factory.

According to the workers after the meeting Roman Pipia told the audience that the plant will be supplied with gas and the new price will be launched on September 19-20, 2016. He said, that the workforce will be restored and they are working to strengthen the production capacity, which will allow to double salaries in two years.

At the end of the meeting when he was leaving the factory he met and talked with Tamaz Dolaberidze. He said that, he will do everything for mediating with banks and help the workers on postponing credits until the factory will start production again.

Despite of unpleasant developments after the protest rally the Trade Union hope that the administration will return to the format of the negotiations and problematic issues will be resolved constructively.

These events have made it clear that labor-legal situation is not quite in order in the factory: when worker is restricted to use his/her own break in an optional way; when the chairman of the Trade Union is not allowed to enter the territory of the plant; when employees are dismissed from the job illegally; when a workers is forced by a supervisor to write a statement about leaving the job - it is obvious that Trade Union and the administration has to have serious conversation about these issues.

Trade Union will closely monitor the fulfillment of the promises given by the company administration during the meeting and also after the appointment of a mediator and definitely Labor-law violations will be studied in details.