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Union organizing still a priority in Georgia

3 July, 2018Despite difficulties and challenges, IndustriALL Global Union’s Georgian affiliate the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers (TUMMCIWG) is actively organizing workers.

TUMMCIWG's actions have been supported through a four-year project by IndustriALL and its Norwegian affiliate IndustriEnergi. Thanks to promising results, the project will be extended.

During an evaluation seminar in Tbilisi on 25-26 June, TUMMCIWG’s national and local leaders shared the results achieved. The union was the first in the CIS sub-region to actively use the Institute of mediators and to seek the assistance of the government in labour disputes with employer.
Despite a constant pressure from employers at many enterprises, and a declining number of members, the union has managed to strengthen its influence. After more than a year of negotiations, a collective agreement for the Ksani glass container factory in Georgia was signed.

The union repeatedly tried to increase the number of members at the Zestafoni Ferroalloy Plant to 450, but faced waves of attacks at every attempt. Instead, the TUMMCIWG decided to keep the existing 350 members and to direct efforts where progress can be made. Having overcome serious disagreements, the union signed a collective agreement with a comprehensive benefits package. Union representatives were included in all commissions, including the Commission on bonus distribution.
Tamaz Dolaberidze, TUMMCIWG president, states:

Since 2016 we have signed three collective agreements, and we will be very happy if our partnership continues. I would like to thank IndustriEnergi and IndustriALL Global Union. We are not alone but part of a global movement, it gives us a great impetus to move forward.

Frode Alfheim, president of IndustriEnergi and co-chair of IndustriALL’s energy section, announced the continuation of their support for the organizing project.
In the new phase of the project, not only members of the TUMMCIWG, but also potential members, activists and leaders of from other unions will be invited to discuss possible cooperation and joint actions.
Participants discussed the possibility of joint workshops with trade union activists and employer representatives on the development of social dialogue, with the aim of removing tension and to build constructive relations. This could also change the image of the union, showing that unions are responsible social partners and demanding the same from the employer.

TUMMCIWG will focus on more effective representation of workers at the workplace in order to motivate them to join the union.
Kemal Ozkan, IndustriALL assistant general secretary, says:

Our Georgian sisters and brothers have a progressive union agenda by putting membership growth as their number one priority. IndustriALL shares that priority and we will continue to provide support.

We also thank IndustriEnergi for their support. We hope that the new strategy will bring new victories.