An estimated 3,000 miners in Chiatura have gone on strike over changes imposed by their employer, Georgian Manganese, which miners say increased their workload without a corresponding increase in pay.
The strike has now entered its fourth day. Miners and their family members have been holding protest rallies through the streets of Chiatura, forcing mining operations to grind to a halt.
The miners’ demands include:
- A salary increase to account for inflation;
- A return to their old work schedule;
- Improved safety procedures;
- New equipment and overalls;
- Better ventilation of the mines;
- Changing their insurance company;
- Addressing environmental damage in Chiatura caused by the mine.
Georgian Manganese’s operations in Chiatura have taken a heavy environment over the past 17 years. The levels of manganese and other toxic substances in the air, soil, and rivers are a hundred times or more higher than allowed norms. Meanwhile, tunneling has led to soil collapses and landslides that have destroyed village after village.
In 2017 a court fined the company 416 million GEL for environmental damage and appointed a special representative to oversee company operations. The representative’s mandate included correcting environmental damage and protecting employees’ labor rights. As a result of the court decision and special arrangement, there have been no labor or environmental inspections at Georgian Manganese since that date.
The Fair Labor Platform expresses solidarity and support for the miners and their demands.