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Georgia: Mineworkers fight against severe union-busting

12 February, 2015The management of RMG Copper and RMG Gold, mining enterprises located in Kazreti, Georgia, began a fight against the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL. As a result of the union busting, 120 workers have withdrawn from the union within the last few days.

Recently the employer's representatives have visited the enterprises spreading the drafts of resignation letters to withdraw from the union. They force the employees of both enterprises to leave the union under the threat of dismissal and other trouble.

As a result more than 100 union members could not resist the management pressure and signed resignation letters. The union at RMG Copper had 690 members back in January, but 96 people have withdrawn over the last few days. 14 members out of 320 have left the local union at RMG Gold.

The union busting began after the management once again received a letter from the union reminding that the obligations under the agreement signed back on 23 March 2014 after the end of a 40-day strike have not been fulfilled:

- the collective agreement draft prepared by the union and sent to the employer for review back in April-May 2014 has still not been reviewed;

- the company has not taken measures to increase the workers' salary;

- in case there is a vacancy the company hires an employee from the labor market instead of using the candidates pool list created by the union;

- the labor disputes commission had to be created in April 2014, but only met in August 2014 for the first time and so far three meetings out of seven have been held.

On 14 February 2014, exactly a year ago, the miners of Georgian enterprises RMG Copper and RMG Gold went on strike after the management refused to fulfill its obligations according to the agreement signed back in November 2013 and fired more than 180 employees under the pretext of reorganization in January 2014. After a 40-days strike the union and the management signed an agreement to reinstate 80 dismissed workers, to reinstate other workers later in case the economic situation at the company improves, to sign a collective agreement and increase the salaries. However, the agreement reached at the price of a long strike has still not been fulfilled.

“RMG management must withdraw from disgusting anti-union tactics and stop union-busting immediately, without any delay,” said IndustriALL’s General Secretary Jyrki Raina. “The company must fulfill their obligations according to the agreement.”