Georgia’s Russian-owned mineral water giant IDS Borjomi has sacked 49 workers over failed remuneration negotiation, a development following the indefinite suspension of production after its parent company got hit with sanctions.
In a statement delivered to Civil.ge, IDS Borjomi said it was “forced” to resort to a reorganization after “a minor part of the employees” refused to settle on receiving 50% of their monthly wages while the factory doors remain shut.
The company no longer has the financial capacity to pay full remuneration during the idle time given the circumstances, IDS Borjomi argued.
The factory employees will not know exactly who got the sack until the company hands out formal dismissal orders, Labor, a trade union representing about 400 Borjomi workers stated today.
The labor union suggested that the IDS Borjomi could be trying to sow a rift between its workers by blaming the reorganization on those who refused to settle for decreased pay.
“The employees understand well that the company has decided to confront the workers with each other,” it asserted, warning that IDS Borjomi would be faced “with even a larger unity” among its staff instead.
Before the pay negotiation fell through, the trade union said on May 2 that the workers would have struck a deal with IDS Borjomi if it guaranteed that the pay cuts would last only three months and afterward the contracts would be renegotiated.
Without the guarantee, the union noted the workers would refuse the company’s terms and opt to wait for Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili to follow up on his promise that the Government would unveil “pleasant information” about IDS Borjomi in the near future.
The company announced the suspension of production on April 29, citing restrictions on accessing its foreign currency revenues and trouble settling with creditors.
The Georgia-based company is owned by IDS Borjomi International, registered in Curaçao, an offshore tax haven. A 60% stake in the parent company belongs to Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman’s Alfa Group.
Alfa Group’s Alfa-Bank, the largest private financial institution in Russia, has been hit with sanctions amid Russia’s war against Ukraine.
Push for State Action
The labor union has appealed to the Ministry of IDPs from the Occupied Territories, Labor, Health, and Social Affairs to step in and mediate between the workers and company management.
“We shall all ask ourselves whether we prefer oligarch [Mikhail] Fridman, sanctioned for being close to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, over citizens of our country, 1,000 workplaces, and our national treasure – the Borjomi water,” the union said today.
Also, Giorgi Diasamidze, head of the organization, suggested on May 4 that the Georgian state should seize the Russian-owned stake in IDS Borjomi altogether.