About 2,500 miners in the western Georgian town of Chiatura have been on a strike for the past eight days demanding pay rise and better working conditions from their employer – the Georgian Manganese Holding.
Having failed to negotiate with the company, some protesters went on a hunger strike and erected a tent in front of the company headquarters in Chiatura. Strikers have also picketed the roads for trucks carrying manganese ore.
Miners are demanding 50% salary increase, improved insurance package and banning transportation of manganese ore through the town. Protesters have said they are ready to agree to gradual pay rise – 30% now and 20% later, by the end of the year.
Merab Lominadze, a senior executive of the Georgian Manganese, says the company is ready to increase the salary rate by 25% – 15% immediately and 10% after company reorganization.
Lominadze also maintains that the strike is “illegal,” arguing that miners broke a three-year no-strike agreement signed in 2018. The company representative says they might bring the case to court.
The protesters said the offer is unacceptable, and accused the company of pressuring them.
Miners went on strike on May 16, three days before the mayoral by-elections in Chiatura – where the Georgian Dream-nominated candidate, Givi Modebadze obtained 64.57% of votes.