Up to 350 workers of the “Borjomi” company, producing popular Georgian mineral water, went on strike on May 18, forcing the production in two factories to stop. The demands include pay rise, rights to holidays and breaks, as well as the prohibition of discrimination in the company on the basis of membership of trade unions.
According to the Labor Union of Agriculture, Trade, and Industry which organized the collective action, the decision to strike came after the failed 21-day mediation with the company.
The strike “followed employer’s lies, inequality,” one of the workers told the press and warned that the factory will not be able to resume working unless their demands are met. The company leadership “gets GEL 75 thousand [USD 22 thousand] in salary, [while] I am fighting for GEL 1,000 [USD 300] and they are not giving me even that,” said another worker.
Giorgi Diasamidze, Head of the Labor Union, said the company administration promised a pay rise a year ago, but failed to keep the promise. According to the Labor Union head, further concerns include understaffing, leading to employees being tasked with multiple duties with no access to lunch breaks. “You can see employees who have been working for 6-7 years here and did not rest even for a single day,” Diasamidze remarked.
The Head of the Labor Union also said the company has threatened the workers with dismissals, should they join the strike. The Union published a photo of the May 17 statement signed by the director, allegedly hanging in the factory halls, which reads that earlier pay rise offers made by the company will not apply to workers that would join the strike.
The Borjomi factories are run by IDS Borjomi Georgia LLC, owned by the Russia-based Alfa Group conglomerate. The company has yet to comment on the strike.
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