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Railway construction workers on strike in central Georgia

17 January 2018

Dozens of railway construction workers have gone on strike in central Georgia demanding better labour conditions. According to the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC), they are protesting ‘severe violations’ of the labour code, and an unsafe work environment.

The strike began on 16 January in Bezhatubani, a village in Kharagauli Municipality, Imereti. The workers will decide what to do next after meeting with the company’s administration on 17 January.

Vitali Giorgadze, the head of the New Trade Union, told OC Media that workers for China Railway 23rd Bureau Group have complained of the same problems for more than two years. According to him, employees are now demanding to be fully paid for annual leave, and sick leave.

China Railway 23rd Bureau Group, based in Chengdu, China, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corp, has been accused of breaching workplace health and safety rules.

Two workers were injured after an accident in a tunnel they were working on in July 2017, but the company claimed they had provided workers with ‘appropriate equipment’.

The GTUC said they inspected and monitored the company in October 2017 and found that the labour code is ‘often violated’.

The company has been working on a railway tunnel in Kharagauli that is part of the Khashuri–Kharagauli–Zestaponi railway line.

In 2016, a number of the company’s employees went on strike for more than a week with the same demands. The GTUC said that despite making a number of promises, the company failed to fulfill these.