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The News in Brief

Monday, March 7
Month-long strike at Ksani factory ends as solution reached

A strike at a glass factory in Ksani - near - Tbilisi has ended after 29 days.

Workers demanded an increase in their salaries, a collective contract and office space for the local trade union. They achieved a 7.5 percent pay raise and from January 1 2017 will receive a collective agreement.

Negotiations over a collective agreement will begin in April.

About 160 workers participated in the strike, 80 percent of them factory employees. They will be compensated for the time they were on strike, which amounts to half the days it lasted.

The company also agreed to allocate a room for the trade union.

The last round of negotiations lasted over seven hours and was attended by the MP for Mtskheta, trade union representatives, company management and the strike committee itself.

The strike began on February 5, with workers demanding a 30 percent increase in salaries, but in the end workers admitted that the company wouldn’t provide that high an increase and they settled on the proposed amount.

PM Speaks of Partnership with Republican Party, Need for ‘Significant Renewal’ of GDDG

PM Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that Georgian Dream - Democratic Georgia (GDDG) - the largest party within the GD ruling coalition - is considering a partnership agreement with the Republican Party, and others within the coalition will have to join if GD is to remain a multi-party entity for the October parliamentary elections.

Speaking at a government session on Friday morning, Kvirikashvili - who is set to become chairman of GDDG party this spring - also said that GDDG “will of course be renewed to a significant extent.”

The GD coalition consists of five parties – GDDG itself, the Republican Party, the Industrialists, the Conservative Party, and the National Forum. Two of them – the Industrialists and Republicans – have been engaged in a public confrontation for weeks, during which one of the leaders of Industrialist Party, MP Gogi Topadze, accused Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli of the Republican Party of manipulating the Sagarejo MP by-election results in October 2015.

The Republicans have been accusing MP Topadze of pursuing Russian propaganda narratives. Topadze’s anti-Western rhetoric and remarks justifying Stalin’s mass repressions have put him at odds with the ruling coalition’s declared policies a number of times in the past, and his recent remarks were dismissed by PM Kvirikashvili by saying on March 3: “Stalinist sentiments, radicalism and marginal pseudo-traditions originating from the depths of the Soviet Union are alien and unacceptable for the future of Georgia.”

But in the same statement on March 3, the PM also criticized Defense Minister Tina Khidasheli for engaging publicly in trade of barbs with the Industrialists.

Later on March 3, the PM met with leaders of the Republican Party. After the meeting the Republicans he said that they were preparing a “strategic partnership” agreement with the GDDG.

Commenting on his meeting with the Republicans, as well as on the recent infighting within the GD ruling coalition, PM Kvirikashvili said on March 4: “I think that the political process which has started is very important. In this process there will naturally be negotiations both in bilateral and multilateral formats.”

“I had a very important conversation with several leaders of the Republican Party; we spoke about the importance of the partnership between the Republican Party and the Georgian Dream-[Democratic Georgia party],” Kvirikashvili said.

“Certain agreements will have to be achieved in the lead up to the elections, but the coalition is a multi-party entity and if the Georgian Dream remains multi-party ahead of the elections, then of course any agreement reached bilaterally [between Republicans and GDDG] should also be confirmed in multilateral format [by other parties within the coalition],” he said.

“One thing should be noted: GDDG will of course be renewed to a significant extent and there will be a consolidation over joint goals. Overall, if we run in elections in a coalition form, the team will unite over very clear goals, which are based on our best values and traditions and of course on a consensus over Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic future,” Kvirikashvili said.

“I think that a very important process has been started. Before the elections we of course continue working within the coalition framework,” Kvirikashvili said, adding that while within the coalition differences can persist, there should be “much higher level” of unity within the government. “We should maximally concentrate on tasks, which are acute for our population and the country.”

GDDG itself is an eclectic entity with some of its lawmakers appearing to sympathize more with MP Topadze in the ongoing confrontation with the Republican Party.

Former PM Bidzina Ivanishvili, who founded GDDG party and GD coalition,spoke about the need for reshuffle in October 2015, when he said that at least half of the current lawmakers from the ruling coalition may not make it on the party list of candidates for 2016 parliamentary elections.

City Court has new Chairman

The City Court has a new chairman. Despite the request of the former head of the City Court and the third sector, the High Council of Justice has elected Giorgi Mikautadze as Chairman of Tbilisi City Court.

A total of 12 members of the Council supported Mikautadze; only one member - Vakhtang Mchedlishvili -voted against him.

Mikautadze’s candidacy was presented by Council’s Secretary Levan Murusidze on 29 February.

City Court Chairman’s post has been vacant since February 22, after the High Council of Justice dismissed Mamuka Akhvlediani.
(Rustavi 2)