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Georgian miners to go on strike

10 February, 2014The miners of RMG Gold and RMG Copper in Georgia announced their plan to go on strike after the management refused to fulfill their obligations according to the agreement signed in November 2013. The management replied with dismissals.

After announcement of the strike at both enterprises from 29-30 January 2014 some 140 employees were fired as part of the announced reorganization, including 15 union activists who had participated in negotiations with the management. In opinion of the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL, by these actions the companies are trying to undermine the strike, intimidate the workers and block collective bargaining. In the same time the company questions the representation rights of the local union refusing to negotiate and trying to discredit it.

On 24 January 2014, the next day after the meeting of workers and the management, which only resulted in further aggravation of the labor conflict, the workers sent a letter to the management of RMG Gold and RMG Copper informing them about starting strike procedures. A copy of this letter was sent to the Minister of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia. According to the Georgian labour law a strike may start 21 days after the date such letter was received.

The miners demand:

  • 100 per cent salary increase from 400$US up to 800$US;
  • better working conditions in terms of labour safety, sanitary and hygienic conditions, provision of ding overalls, safety footwear and other personal protective equipment;
  • improved health insurance conditions;
  • start of the process of preparing and reviewing the collective agreement between the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG) and the management of  RMG Gold and RMG Copper;
  • reinstatement of all workers dismissed in 2013.

Earlier on 19 November 2013 around 700 miners of RMG Gold and RMG Copper, mining enterprises in Georgia, both belonging to Rich Metals Group, went on strike demanding better working conditions and a salary increase which had been promised by the management previously. As a result an agreement was signed between the parties on 23 November 2013.

Over the past two months numerous meetings and negotiations took place and the workers thoroughly fulfilled their obligations according to the agreement. Despite promises from the side of the management the main issues concerning the salary increase, better working conditions and health insurance are still pending regardless of the fact that they were a priority part of the agreement.

In support of the demands of Georgian miners IndustriALL Global Union sent a letter to the leadership of RMG Gold and RMG Copper demanding to start negotiations with the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia trade union (TUMMCIWG). In case the companies refuse to start negotiations IndustriALL will start a campaign with participation of wide international community.