The Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, is organizing a major protest rally on 14 February 2016 to demand the reinstatement of 350 workers illegally dismissed from the Rustavi Azot plant.
The workers were dismissed in January 2017 after the company owners changed and new management came to the Georgian chemical plant, which is the largest fertilizer producer in the Caucasus. The plant is facing economic problems and was looking for financing of its modernization. Despite an earlier announced agreement with the European bank of reconstruction and development last year the deal on financing the modernization of the plant has never been finalized. The future of the plant providing jobs to 2,300 people remains uncertain.
A rally will take place in the city of Rustavi, in front of the main office of Rustavi Azot. The Georgian Trade Union Confederation, students and independent civil society activists will participate. The chairpersons of IndustriALL affiliates from Armenia, Belarus and Kyrgyzstan, regional secretary Vadim Borisov will join the rally to show solidarity with Rustavi Azot workers.
This follows a protest held in Tbilisi on 7 February, when about 100 people marched through the city to the building of the central branch of the Bank of Georgia. The protesters whistled, shouted the word "solidarity" and beat drums. Initially the police did not intervene, but later blocked the highway on which the protesters were moving. A series of small rallies is planned in the lead up to the 14 February action, in front of the offices of government and other state structures.
Union representatives met with Rustavi Azot management at the Ministry of Labour on 6 February, but failed to reach agreement.
A series of protests has taken place in Georgia since the company stopped production at the plant at end of January. A protest on 2 February turned violent when police forcedly removed workers and their supporters who were protesting at the company's administrative building.
TUMMCIWG chair, Tamaz Dolaberidze, states:
“Our goal is the reinstatement of the illegally dismissed workers, and the action on February 14 will be another tool to put pressure on the Georgian government to do their best to end this social crisis. To my mind, international support will strengthen our struggle”.
IndustriALL appeals to all affiliates to send letters of solidarity to Tamaz Dolaberidze [email protected] up to the morning of 14 February. They will be read during the protest.