Protection of the labour rights of miners is the responsibility of the Georgian authorities

Today, at 4:00 pm, a rally of Chiatura miners will be held near the Parliament of Georgia. Today's rally is a continuation of the 2-week protests of the miners, which had been going on in Chiatura so far. The protest is related to the changes unilaterally made to the work schedule and payments by the employer. The labour mediation with the employer - Georgian Manganese - has been in vain so far. The miners' demands include a safe and healthy working environment, the opportunity to take a leave, and to receive their unepaid payments. The addressee of the effective realization of these rights guaranteed by the Labour Code of Georgia is the State, which shall supervise the observance of labour legislation in the workplace, inter alia, through the Labour Inspection Service.  

According to the reports, the Labour Inspection Service last checked the activities of the Georgian Manganese in 2018 and found a number of violations. Considering the above, it is especially strange why they did not get interested in the company's activities in the following years. An important circumstance is that since 2017, a state manager has been appointed to the company on the basis of the court’s decision. Consequently, the participation of the State in this labour relationship is even more intense than in standard cases.

In addition to the state obligation to respond to labour rights violations, the strike ongoing in the Chiatura mines is a matter of national importance given that Chiatura is in fact facing economic collapse. Over 3,000 people employed by the Georgian Manganese represent the absolute majority of Chiatura's working-age population, and the suspension of work in the mines means the end of economic life in the entire city.

Such a large-scale and long-lasting protest, the problem of a city facing a social and ecological disaster, is completely ignored by the highest officials of the Georgian authorities. Until now, only the mediator appointed by the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the Mayor of Chiatura had participated in the process of solving the problem. The authorities’ disregard for the large-scale violation of the labour rights pushed Chiatura miners to resort to the extreme forms of protest. Several miners decided to go on hunger strike, sew their mouths and eyes shut after they could not get legal or political support from the State to protect their rights. By resorting to the extreme forms of protest and bringing the rallies to Tbilisi, the miners hope to finally draw the attention of the authorities and force them to meet their just demands.

DRI calls on:

The Labour Inspection Service - to study the working conditions of the miners employed in the Georgian Manganese and to take measures provided for by legislation in response to the violation of labour legislation.

The Government of Georgia - to develop and present a specific plan for overcoming the crisis in the shortest possible time so that to provide a safe and healthy working environment in Chiatura and specifically in the Georgian Manganese, in order to solve the ecological and economic challenges in the city.

The Parliament of Georgia - to use its oversight mechanisms: by holding committee hearings, summoning the Minister of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs, in order to receive information about the steps the Government of Georgia intends to take in order to overcome the crisis.