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Georgian glass workers create their union after beatings

01.11.2017

After cases of physical violence and pressure from their employer and the police, workers at Albatros, a window and door manufacturing company in Georgia, have formed a local branch of IndustriALL Global Union’s affiliate in the country in order to better protect their rights.

On 18 October, a group of 50 workers from the Tbilisi-based company, held the founding assembly of a local branch of the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG). The workers elected their chair, deputy and 17 committee members at the assembly, which was held in the conference hall of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation.

The first challenge for the newly-created union will be to prepare for collective bargaining with management of the company. The union intends to address the issues of employment contracts, paid vacation and temporary disability, which the company has so far handled to the detriment of workers’ interests and in violation of national legislation.

The workers appealed to the national union at the beginning of October after three co-workers were violently beaten by security guards, and one more worker suffered from the actions of the employer’s representative. In an act of protest the entire workforce put down their tools and contacted the TUMMCIWG which helped to resolve the conflict situation.

TUMMCIWG chair, Tamaz Dolaberidze, stated:

“Now Albatros is avoiding negotiations and there is the difficult process of recognition of the union. The management considers this as something alien; they cannot even imagine that workers have right to association. Although we haven’t faced any open opposition, the company is still not agreeing to dialogue.”

TUMMCIWG is participating for the fourth year running in the organizing project run by IndustriALL with the support of its Norwegian affiliate Industri Energi. During this time, activists have been trained in organizing methods, including campaigns, actions and strikes as well as collective bargaining and collective agreements. The training has already brought notable results.

Albatros is one of the largest manufacturing companies of metal, plastic and aluminium windows and doors in Georgia and employs around 250 workers.