Hundreds of social workers across the country went on strike on March 25, demanding higher wages and more resources to improve their working conditions. The protest follows series of unsuccessful negotiations with the Ministry of Healthcare.
The strikers, employees of the Social Service Agency, have a list of six demands from the authorities; they want to increase of what they say is one of the lowest public salaries in the country. They also want the authorities to hire more social workers, buy vehicles for social service centers, and add more psychologists and lawyers.
The protesters gathered in front of the Government administration in Tbilisi. Small scale rallies were also held in Kutaisi, Batumi, Telavi and Gori.
“We went on strike because our working conditions are abnormal… our scope of work has been growing over the last few years, but this has happened without increasing human resources,” said one of the strikers in Tbilisi.
“Since our employer did not pay due attention to our concerns, we decided to launch a strike. The strike will continue until the Ministry takes efficient steps – protects our beneficiaries and respects our profession,” another protester added.
Healthcare Minister Davit Sergeenko said the strike would not affect the beneficiaries, and the work would be performed by other employees of the ministry. He also said the authorities have offered their terms to the strikers, and “it is now up to them to decide [whether they agree or not].”