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MP addresses problems facing Tkibuli region

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, June 20
The June 19th parliamentary debates kicked-off addressing the problems faced by those living in the Tkibuli region. This resulted in finger pointing from both sides. Though these issues are serious, many in parliament wanted to discuss the opposition party Georgian Dream instead, despite the fact that the party currently is not even represented in the parliament.

Several representatives at the parliamentary session were irritated by the statements made by the leader of the Unity for Justice Party, Dimitri Lortkipanidze. Lortkipanidze, who is the opposition MP, is the one who raised the Tkibuli region issue.

According to Lortkipanidze, the current state of the Labor code “legalizes slavery” and perfect example of this is the situation in the Tkibuli region. “There are 1,200 men employed in the region, however their conditions are horrible,” Lortkipanidze said, explaining that people have to work in 400 meter deep mines in poor working conditions and without agreements. The MP then connected the deaths of 14 miners in Tkibuli to these deprived working conditions.

The mine was not the only place Lortkipanidze addressed. The chair of the faction Unity for Justice also described the situation in a sewing factory in the region, which he referred to as a “modern slavery [factory]” where women work for 80 GEL a month. As Lortkipanidze mentioned, both the mine and the factory are under Turkish leadership. The Turkish manager gets 12, 000 GEL a month as a salary, and Georgians have to work for a maximum for GEL 300 monthly without any social guarantees.

In response, the Tkibuli majoritarian deputy to parliament, Pavle Kublashvili focused on the “increasing number” of employed people compared to the former years. Kublashvili also presented different information concerning the wages of the mine workers in Tkibuli.

According to Kublashvili, everyone was skeptical concerning the mines’ re-opening. However, the government managed it and was able to employ the locals.

“It’s true that 1,200 men work there. However, in past years there were only about 300 employed. The average salary of employees at the mine is GEL 800 and for those who work beyond 400 meters [underground], their wages are GEL 1,200” Kublashvili said, adding that the salary is not quite adequate but the government is working to create a better situation for all Georgians in the state.

However, many did not concur with this assertion. MP Nugzar Tsiklauiri blamed the faction Unity for Justice for the lack of knowledge concerning the region's problems and renamed the faction as the “Balalaika.” Tsiklairi also linked the faction’s plans to the opposition coalition Georgian Dream’s intentions and outlined that the opposition will have no chance.

“One of the pre-election promises of one of the leaders was destroying the bridges (meaning Ivanishvili. He said that the glass bridge that was built in Tbilisi's oldest district should be removed, as it does not aesthetically fit in with the environment). The Georgian people will make a choice between building and destroying,” Tsiklauri said.

One more painful issue of the debates was related to bank credits and the numerous people left without apartments due to bank debts.

The majority of representatives repeated the president’s recent comments concerning the banks and mentioned that it would be better if the banks would think more about the consumers and develop new ways to decrease the number of unsatisfied consumers.

Responding to this, the parliament's minority Christian-Democrats called such statements as “staging plays” and reminded the ruling team that they had adopted such changes in the law which enabled the banks to confiscate people's flats so easily, in many cases even without the court’s involvement.