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Georgian Railways employees on strike

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Friday, November 15
A large percentage of Georgian railroad workers went on strike on November 14th. The strike was announced by the Railway Trade Union several days ago. However, information regarding the announced strike of over six thousand employees of Georgian Railways has become controversial, as strikers and the administration have made considerably different statements regarding the strike.

The Georgian Railway Trade Union asserts the strike will not affect passenger trips, but only scheduled cargo train trips. The strikers are demanding salaries according to professional experience and length of service, overtime pay and end of the year bonuses.

The strikers claim that their base 500 lari a month salary is not enough. They want their salary to be reviewed by the government.

“Changes to salaries only concerned the management and not ordinary employees of the railway.” railway employee Valerian Kobauri said.

Kobauri added that Georgian Railways employees do not receive bonuses or overtime wages.

“Nearly 2000 employees of the railway are on strike,” Tamar Gedevanishvili, head of the trade union press-service, said. She stressed that the workers of Tbilisi's key locomotive depot, sorting station and railroad service are on strike. Gedevanishvili emphasized that the Georgian Railways administration has exerted pressure on railway employees in the Khashuri and Samtredia regions to keep them from striking.

The administration of the Georgian Railways says the strike is being controlled by "destructive" forces. According to the Georgian Railways' administration, 95% of Georgian Railways employees are not on strike. Dachi Tsaguria, PR head for Georgian Railways, says no trips have been cancelled due to the strike.

“There is no slowdown in our scheduled trips. Passenger and freight trains are on the move without any obstacles. We have information that the process is artificially strained due to some destructive force. Their aim is to portray the country's situation very negatively.” Tsaguria said.

Tsaguria called on the strike leaders to end their ultimatums and begin dialogue with the Georgian Railways administration.

Vitali Giorgadze, head of the Railway Trade Unions, said that if Georgian Railways continues to ignore the strikers' demands, the strike will go on indefinitely.

“The administration is trying to portray the strike as being politically motivated. This attitude is insulting for their employees. It would be better if the administration actually sat down at the negotiating table and began a constructive dialogue." Giorgadze said.