23 March, 2017Management of the fertilizer plant Rustavi Azot in Georgia has unilaterally announced the termination of any relationship with the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union.
On 20 March, the new owner of Rustavi Azot, the company EU Investments, one-sidedly cancelled the collective agreement concluded in 2013 without the trade union’s consent. This is contrary to the legislation of Georgia. Management also declared that it would no longer apply a check-off system of union dues collection and will stop transferring the fees to the bank account of the union. All this will negatively affect union activity.
Chair of the TUMMCIWG Tamaz Dolaberidze said:
“The company is trying to get rid of the organization that protects workers’ rights and strongly protested the illegal dismissal of 350 employees announced in January 2017. The owner decided to destroy the union, so that later we could not create additional problems for him”.
The union has informed the Ministry of Labour of Georgia about the situation. If the Ministry does not take any action to restore the rule of law in the near future, the union is prepared to submit a complaint to the International Labour Organization. The information will also be reported to government departments of the USA and the European Council. This could result in the suspension of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP+), a programme of preferential tariffs favouring trade between US as well as European Union states and Georgia.
Repressive measures from management started in response to the lawsuit on behalf of 57 workers illegally dismissed from Rustavi Azot on 25 January, filed by the union a few days ago. TUMMCIWG also made the owner pay compensation of 1,200 GEL (US $ 480) to another 293 workers who agreed to accept their dismissals.
The TUMMCIWG continues to fight for justice for the workers and is preparing new protests.
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