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Justice for 56 illegally dismissed chemical workers in Georgia

4 February, 2020The Supreme Court of Georgia confirmed on 29 January, the decisions of two lower courts to oblige Rustavi Azot chemical plant to reinstate 56 employees with payment of their due wages for the past three years.

The trial lasted three years and went through three court instances, as the company appealed the decisions in favour of dismissed workers by two lower courts. Workers were represented by the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), an affiliate of IndustriALL Global Union, through the entire process.

Tamaz Dolaberidze, TUMMCIWG president, said:

“It was a war of nerves, as it took the Supreme Court 1.5 year to consider whether to take or not the case appealed by the company for the second time, and finally decide that the decision of the second court instance shall remain in force. Looking back, we see that the labour disputes resolution should be done by a special labour arbitration so that workers do not wait for years until their cases are resolved. Trade unions have been calling for the creation of such labour arbitrations for many years, but the problem is still there”.

The union leader expressed his gratitude to IndustriALL and its affiliates for the massive international support, including solidarity letters and participation of union leaders in protests, that made TUMMCIWG stronger in its actions against Rustavi Azot illegal behaviour and helped to archive justice for 56 illegally dismissed workers.

Now Rustavi Azot has to reinstate all 56 workers and pay off their lost wages for the past three years for the total amount of GEL 2.000.000 (US$ 700.000).

The workers were dismissed on January 2017 when, during a change of company ownership, 350 out of 2,300 workforce did not have their contracts renewed. While the majority of them then agreed to receive a compensation from the company in the amount of GEL 1,200 (US$ 415), 56 workers decided to seek justice through the judiciary process.

Mass dismissals at the beginning of 2017 were followed by the union busting as a reaction to the protests against the illegal dismissals. The new contracts concluded with the remaining workers seriously undermined their working conditions. In February 2017, TUMMCIWG denounced oppression faced by union members at the plant and IndustriALL conducted an international solidarity action in support of Rustavi Azot workers.