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Miners go on strike in Chiatura, Western Georgia

By Veronika Malinboym
Monday, April 26
Approximately 3,000 miners employed at Georgian Manganese went out on a strike in Chiatura, Imereti region of Western Georgia, to demand a salary raise, better working conditions and stricter environmental protection measures. Protesters bypassed trade unions and hired a private lawyer, with the help of which they addressed a letter to the Minister of Health of Georgia Ekaterine Tikaradze. The protesters’ main demands include 50% pay rise, improving insurance packages, handing over employment contracts to employees, preventing the movement of heavy vehicles in the city and improving the general environmental situation in cities and villages. According to the participants of the rally, as a result of improper ore factory processing and extraction, the river Kvirila, air and drinking water are polluted and the soil in the nearby areas becomes useless.

One of the Georgian NGOs, Governance Monitoring Centre (GMC), has already expressed solidarity with the protesters:

“After the construction of the new factory by Georgian Manganese, the workforce doubled, while the remuneration remained the same. In addition, after the 2019 shares, the company was divided into parts and by the decision of the administration the salary was increased only for the part of the employees. This became one of the reasons for the miners' dissatisfaction.

The Governance Monitoring Center (GMC) is in solidarity with the serious labor and environmental problems of the people living and working in Chiatura.

The Imereti Bureau of the Management Monitoring Center (GMC) closely monitors the processes and periodically provides new information”, the GMC official statement reads.

Yesterday, Georgian Manganese company reported that an agreement has been reached with some of the miners, who agreed to return to work on Monday, after being offered a GEL250 pay raise, and an annual holiday bonus of GEL250. The new terms will be signed into contracts on April 26 and enter into force on May 1. However, in its official statement, Georgian Trade Unions Confederation said that an offer of GEL250 pay raise is unacceptable, as it only constitutes a 25% pay raise as opposed to 50% that the miners are demanding.