Miners in Western Georgia on strike again
More than 200 miners working at the Dzidziguri mine in Tkibuli went on strike. They were forced to do so because of difficult working conditions.
According to the miners, yet another problem has recently been added to their growing list of complaints – an electric locomotive failed and now they have to walk 6 kilometers every day in order to get to the mine.
“We walk ankle-deep in the mud, and the management is in no hurry to fix the electric locomotive. We do not intend to tolerate such a disregard for our well-being,: one of the participants in the strike, Irakli Chikhladze, told Radio Liberty.
Miners say that the elevator, which lowers workers to a depth of 300 meters, is also in a critical state of disrepair, but it seems that the mine management is in no rush to fix it, but suggests using another mine, the Mindeli mine, to access their workplaces – a significantly longer and more time-consuming route. Moreover, miners suspect that the new company which took over the Dzidziguri mine last fall is deliberately creating these problems because it plans to cut down on jobs.
Union representative Gaga Isakadze says that suspicions are growing due to the fact that the leadership of the mine plans to devote a whole month to replacing the elevator, although one week would be sufficient.
The mine administration categorically denies these accusations. Moreover, representatives say that after normal working conditions are reached, they plan to increase coal production to 1,200,000 tons per year, and in the future they intend to build a new thermal power plant. However, the striking miners do not believe these promises and demand firm guarantees.
Dzidziguri miners went on strike late September of last year. At that time, they demanded improved working conditions, as well as paying back arrear salary. Minister of Economy Natia Turnava, acting on behalf of Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, traveled to Tkibuli and promised to solve all problems during a meeting with the miners and the administration. Today, the striking miners say that over the past six months, the situation has only gotten worse. The situation is only exacerbated by the arrival of a new investor – the Georgian-Ukrainian Steel International Trading Company.