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Tbilaviamsheni workers go on strike

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, March 1
After three-week fruitless mediation, 120 employees of Tbilisi Aviation Factory Tbilaviamsheni went on strike, requesting increased salaries and better working conditions.

The management of the company only agrees to create a bonus fund that does not satisfy the employees, who demand increased stable income and appreciation of their hard work.

"I have been working here for over 40 years and I have GEL 1007 salary. How can a person make a flying machine and have such a low salary? We demand the growth of wages, we deserve this,” the aircraft engineer Merab Ovanidze stressed in his interview with Netgazeti.

Another employee, Vato Girkeladze, who works as a locksmith says his salary is miserable.

“Our main demand is to have a higher salary and to be appreciated during the working process. We work so much but no one notices this. This is why we are on a strike,” he said.

Nino Bzhalava has been working for the factory for 35 years. She says she works in the laboratory or oils, where the working conditions are “malware” and she has developed health problems.

“My salary is GEL 530. This is nothing for the job I do,” she complained.

Tbilaviamsheni Executive Director Irakli Gogiberidze says he agrees to improve hygiene-sanitary norms and working conditions of the workers but he cannot promise salaries will be increased.

"This is not a budget organization. We are completely dependent upon [external] contracts and agreements we make. In this way, we get income. Therefore, these two demands have been integrated and we have created a bonus system that will depend entirely on contracts and income we get,” he said, adding that around GEL 650,000 will be transferred to the bonus fund.

Gogiberidze explains that 70% of these bonus money which is about 455 thousand GEL, will be distributed to workers, 30% (about 195 thousand GEL) to the administration.

“The bonus system will entirely depend on our income. The more contracts we have, the more money we pay to our workers,” he said.

Tbilaviamsheni is a Georgian aerospace development and manufacturing company, which also partially handles the construction of domestic weapons, armored vehicles and artillery systems. It was established on December 15, 1941.

TAM has trained a number of their production supervision, employees and engineers in long-term training programs in Western aerospace manufacturing plants.

Lately, TAM has been upgraded and added several additional plants to fulfill the needs of the military, which took complete directorate over the company in 2009. That, however, does not prevent the factory to continue the production of civilian aircraft.

Currently, the factory makes civilian aircraft, multirole aircraft, Infantry fighting vehicle, armored personnel carriers, artillery systems, small arms, anti-tank devices and military devices.