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Railway workers in Khashuri on strike

By Keti Arjevanidze
Friday, February 15
Around 800 employees of Georgian Railways in the Khashuri region remain on strike. The workers' main complaint is their low wage. A one-hour meeting with representatives of Georgian Railways failed to resolve the strike.

The workers were promised that their salary would be increased by 50 GEL beginning in March as well as restoration of benefits but they said the offer is not enough and they are going to continue their strike with a demand for a 50% wage increase.

According to railway worker Zurab Tskhovrebashvili, their salary should be equal to other Georgian Railway departments' salaries of between 800-1000 GEL. Zurab Ghambarashvili has the same concern. He said railway workers receive 400 GEL monthly while warehouse employees receive 800 GEL and engineers between 1000-1200 GEL.

Deputy Director of Georgian Railways Oleg Bichiashvili responded to the railway employees' grievances by promising their salaries will increase. “We will discuss this and make a decision." he said.

Georgian Railways released a statement announcing the creation of a working group that will study the problems of Khashuri railway workers. “A bilateral working group will be created which will study the social-economic problems of the railway workers within a reasonable timeframe. Ways to solve the problems will be determined as soon as possible.” the statement reads.

Georgian Railway hopes that the working group will be productive and all problems will be overcome.

Railway workers are on strike in Zestaponi as well -they are demanding a 100% increase in salaries. Improvement of working conditions and compensation for additional working hours are also on their demands' list. Zestaponi railway workers claim that their set working hours are from 8 am to 5 pm but they often have to work throughout the night. Over 300 people work on the Zestaponi segment of Georgian Railways for 400 GEL a month.

“Our salary is very low, despite the fact that we work at a very important section of the railway that ensures the proper movement of the trains.” Zestaponi railway worker Vazha Dundua said.

Dundua added that unless their demands are met all Georgian Railway employees will join them in a solidarity strike. He guesses that a two-week long strike will negatively impact Georgian Railways. "The carriages will become unsafe and there will be an increase in accidents which will cause a financial loss.” Dundua said.