A local court in Georgia has ruled that 56 employees of the Rustavi Azot chemical plant should be reinstated and that the company should pay their outstanding salaries of more than a year.
The legal victory was achieved with the support the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union.
The 56 workers were illegally dismissed at the beginning of 2017 when, during a change of company ownership, 335 workers out of a 2,000-strong workforce did not have their contracts renewed.
During the court hearing, the company claimed the dismissals were made by the previous owner and therefore denied any responsibility towards the terminated workers.
However, lawyers for the Georgian Trade Union Confederation proved that new management had taken over the full responsibility as of 1 January 2017 and, therefore was accountable for the mass dismissals on 25 January 2017.
While 279 people agreed to receive compensation from the company, 56 workers decided to seek justice through the judiciary process.
Tamaz Dolaberidze, TUMMCIWG president, said:
“The decision of the Rustavi city court is fair, and could not be different. Now the desire and appeal to become a trade union member have significantly increased among employees, as for the whole year workers were looking to see the outcome of the trial.”
Management announced its intention to appeal the court decision, however, it has not taken any action yet.
Tamaz Dolaberidze added:
“We urge the company to reinstate the workers as a sign of good will rather than seeking further judiciary process which would only stall the reinstatements.”
In February 2017 TUMMCIWG denounced oppression faced by union members at the factory and IndustriALL conducted an international solidarity action in support of Rustavi Azot workers. Later, in November 2017 the union together with IndustriALL launched an on-line campaign at LabourStart against union busting at the company.
Vadim Borisov, regional secretary of IndustriALL, commented:
“We congratulate our Georgian affiliate on this victory and hope that it encourages Rustavi Azot employees to become members of the union, which proved capable of effectively protecting the rights and interests of workers.”