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DON’T STOP WORKING WHEN YOU DIE

The sound of an explosion was heard in the Mindeli Mine in the Western Georgian bleak town of
Tkibuli at 22:20. The explosion was so powerful that it was easily heard in the surrounding districts,
many kilometers away from the scene. When the workmen of the mine rushed for rescue they found
four of their colleagues dead and one badly injured.

After this accident and all the psychological pain, widowed Zaira Bukhaidze turned out to be in a hor-
rible financial condition without any support. She was left without the only bread winner of the family
and is still in vain waiting to receive some compensation.

This is not an exceptional case. The families of dead or badly injured workers have no defenders
as the workers are the most vulnerable group of people in Georgia. The politics of the country has
taken ‘libertarian’ direction wooing employers at the expense of the rights of those employed. The
striking example therefore is the new Labor Code that was adopted in 2006 by the Parliament. The
Code fits perfectly the employers but not
the employees. Blue-collar workers are
in the worst situation.

The new Labor Code was criticized not


for one single time by the European
Commission and the local Trade Unions,
though officials argue that the old Labor
Code and the model proposed by the
Euro Commission was useless and im-
posed too many obligations on the em-
ployers. So, it came in contradiction with
the top aim of the government – to at-
tract as many investors as possible, la-
Workers crawling on the constructions bor rights aside.
Lot of people die every year in Georgia due to not following security rules or in most cases due to
nonexistence of such rules at all, and of the bad conditions they work under.

According to the recent statistical data of the Ministry of Internal Affaires of Georgia, 403 people died
and 193 were injured in 2009 and only during the first four months in 2010 already 130 people died
and 231 were injured at the workplace. These data are quite impressive for a small country with a
population of only 4, 4 million.

Tkibuli coal mines are among the worst. According to the data of the Georgian Trade Union 5 miners
died during the last four months.

To compare: for each 1 mln. Tons of coal retrieved there is as an average of 1 dead worker in Rus-
sia, in China 4 and in Chile 6. Sad enough, but in Georgia only 150 000 tons of coal was obtained
last year with more than 5 deaths and there is planned to obtain 275 000 tons this year.

In Tkibuli mines there are 1010 workers employed at present.

And not only in the mines, also the number of accidents in manufacturing companies is increasing
every year. The workers have to agree to any terms and conditions of the workplace because of the
difficult economical situation. Own safety becomes secondary in a country where the number of un-
employment has become disastrous, especially in the regions, and the companies are profiteering
on this situation and the lack of choice for ordinary people.

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The laws concerning labor security are often broken and there is no one to control them. Accord-
ing to Georgian Legislation suffered families have the right to receive compensations; however, in
most cases such families have no idea about their rights and are naively waiting for the employers
or government to give it, and there are neither respective norms nor established legal tradition to
ensure fulfillment of these rights.

Gas in the mines

Four men died on March 22nd, 2010 after explosion in Tkibuli mine.

As the workmen and the suffered families are retelling the story, the cause of the explosion was due
to accumulation of gas (methane) in the deadlock mine. As far as it is known the magnetic launcher
of the ventilation system on that particular district went out of order, which meant that it was impos-
sible to clean the air in that district.

The Security Rules of Coal Mining are telling exactly what to do in such a case:
“In case of damage of the ventilation system in the deadlock tunnel the working process in the mine
must be stopped; the pressure must be automatically removed from all electrical devices and the
workmen have to immediately leave to the next tunnel with proper ventilation. Besides, a preventive
sign must be placed in the entrance of such a deadlock tunnel“.

Despite this regulation, in order to win time the management of the mine decided to repair damaged
ventilation system, with routine works going on in the mine at the same time. As a consequence
methane gas accumulated and exploded.

The 4 dead workers were: Murman Kublashvili, Giorgi Bregadze, Jemal Jishiashvili and Mizdon
Oniani.

A special governmental commission was set up to investigate this case. Their report left most ques-
tions open.

For example, in the part describing the cause of the accident the report says that two magnetic
launchers were out of order. One was the launcher of the overturn machine and the second one is
not named. In the third paragraph of the eradication part it says that:

“In case of damage of the local ventilation system, the district of the tunnel must be considered as
completely gas contaminated. The working process can only be started again after conducting a
special gas cleaning work.”

This passage makes clear that the second damaged launcher was that of the ventilation system.

“If the launcher of the ventilation damages in a mine, accumulation of methane gas is inevitable
and an explosion can be expected every minute. This is the state of emergency. Alarm must be an-
nounced; everyone must be taken out from the mine and they must be sent down only a para-rescue
team. While they sent in locksmiths and this is a violation of the rules.”, explains Viktor Dolidze,
Trade Union activist.

The suffered family members are suspicious about the conclusion of the commission and speak
about their own version. They think that one of the reasons of the accident was the fact that the
workers did not have the special equipment for measuring the level of methane gas. According to
the 32nd article of the Security Rules of Coal Mining it is necessary to have such equipment. The
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family members declare that the admin-
istration bought methane measuring
equipment only right after the accident
in order to conceal the misconduct.

During the accident 28 year old Mur-


man Kublashvili died who was working
as a foreman in the third shift together
with his father. Murman had spent his
whole youth working in the mine to earn
livelihood for his family.

As Murman’s father says on the day of


the accident a lot of methane was accu-
mulated in that district and his son was
not supposed to go down there before
the air was completely cleaned.
The Kublashvilis’ family

“My son was not responsible for that issue. There is a head of ventilation department in the mine who
has several foremen as well as deputies who are responsible for checking the level of gas and all the
ventilation issues in the mine. Besides, everyone knew that the ground penetrater was stopped the
other day due to the accumulation of methane. That is why they should first send in men to clean the
air and only afterwards they had the right to request my son and others to fix something.”

Nowadays nobody works in Kublashvili’s family. After the accident father quit the job. It is hard even
to think about working in the mine again for Pavle. His other son has a mental disease and he can’t
live without permanent supervision. He and his family are in a dead end situation. Despite that he
does not find justice, so he has decided to meet personally with the President Mikheil Saakashvili
and personally ask him for help.

Families of the other workers are in the similar stymie. The Jishiashvilis lost their only bread win-
ner, their 71 year old father. Jemal Jishiashvili worked as a locksmith in the mine. According to his
daughter’s words her father was not supposed to be there
at all on that day.

“On the day of the accident my father had already finished


his duty and was about to leave when they called him and
requested him to fix something inside the mine,” Nato
Jishiashvili, 44, recalls that fatal day. “My father had to go
into the mine. I blame the administration for ordering my
father to do something that was not in the contract and I
also blame the management who allowed my father to go
down when the security measures were not taken.”

There is only one miraculously survivor in the March ac-


cident:

39 year old Besik Zosiashvili was rescued by his own fa-


ther, Demur, who risked his own life to save him.

“I worked as a chief of the shift at the fifth department. I


Besik Zosiashvili
3
was together with the guys working on coal when the explosion took place,” recounts Demur Zosia-
shvili. “Just before the accident happened I told them that I had a feeling something bad would take
place sooner or later in that department because I had the feeling that too much gas was concen-
trated on that particular place.”

Fearing to lose his only son, the father out of order run into the mine full of smoke and fire. Because
of the smoke it was impossible to see anything, but Demur managed to carry him out on his own
arms.

Article 1006 of the Civil Code of Georgia says:


“In the case of a victim’s death the harmdoer shall compensate the harm by establishing an an-
nuity for those persons who were dependants of the victim. This obligation shall be effective until
expiration of the period for which the victim was
obligated to pay annuity (i.e., support for his de-
pendants).”

The Jishiashvili family members say that they


personally watched the President’s statement
on national TV declaring that each suffered fam-
ily would receive compensation of 20 000 GEL
(9 500 Euro) together with the funeral costs (5
000 Euro). However, non of the suffered fami-
lies has yet received any compensation except
the funeral costs.

Giorgi Bregadze’s family consists of a disabled


wife and two daughters who were also left with-
out any financial support. “My husband earned
350 GEL (159 Euro) per month. We were very
short of money as I didn’t know how to divide
his salary among my student daughters and the
everyday needs of a family,” says his widow,
Natela, 54.

In a half-emptied town which has become the


ghost of the communist architecture lives Zaira
Bukhaidze. Sitting on a bed in a one room ap-
NaTela Cnobliadze partment the crying woman is retelling that in
such difficult financial circumstances she had to send her older son to make construction works at
the same mine.

“No one pays any attention to our family. After the accident no one has showed any interest towards
us. My husband was the only person employed in our family and now I am left alone with my student
son. How am I supposed to pay his university fee? The only thing that the administration did for us
is that they covered funeral costs, am I supposed to thank them for that? My children and I would
somehow manage to bury my husband ourselves when it really would have come time for that.”

The only person from the administration, who is willing to mention the accident in a general talk
about the working process of the factory, is the corporative management director of “Saknaxshiri”
(GeoCoal, GIG group) Avto Bochorishvili. During the interview he mentioned that the accident took
place due to the negligence of the workers.

The representatives of the administration of the Mindeli Mine refused to give a comment about the

4
issue. As the press speaker of Mindeli mine is stating: ‘the director did not consider it worthwhile to
answer the questions either in a personal meeting or on written base.’

The report of the governmental investigation commission says that the explosion was caused by
“the fact that the workers broke the rules of security in coal mining,” however; the report does not
mention exactly which rules were broken.

According to the words of Victor Dolidze the Main Technical Inspector of the Trade Union of Georgia,
the conclusion of the governmental investigation commission is just a report which has no legislative
background as long as it does not say exactly which articles of the rules were violated.

“The conclusion is supposed to cover the whole


working process including the description of the
circumstances in the mine starting from the pre-
vious day. It has to include threat assessments
concerning the working process, which is not
done in this document. That is why we see the
conclusion as a very suspicious report which is
written in order to hide the true picture”, says Vik-
tor Dolidze.

“This is what I was most afraid of and it happened.


They blamed the victims who are no longer alive.
I knew that they would blame it on negligence of
the workers and free themselves from all respon-
sibilities,” says the widow Zaira.

“The most insulting thing is that they blamed the


suffered families to bargain with their dead fam-
ily members. That was when I told them that I
did not need their compensation. I sent a healthy
man to work and got his corpse back,” says Nato
Jishiashvili.

If two or more persons die by an explosion caused Zaira Bukhaidze


by the violation of the safety rules in explosion hazardous manufacturing, the person responsible is
punished by imprisonment from five to eight years, is deprived of right to work the same position or
activity for three years, according to the 242nd article of the Criminal Code of Georgia.
The 170th article of the Criminal Code also refers generally to the protection of labor and in case
two or more persons’ death the person responsible is punished by imprisonment from four to seven
years, is deprived of right to work the same position or activity for. Both of these norms were violated
but no one was punished in the Mindeli Mine case.

No money No rights

Those families from Tkibuli as well as other suffered people in other regions of Georgia usually do
not and can’t claim in court. The reason is that their income is lower than living wage and claiming
in court is connected to the fees they can not afford.

There are some cases for the latest years when injured workers claimed in the court and got com-
pensation. If injured worker or suffered family can afford to hire a lawyer and cover fees to make a

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complaint, then most likely they can get compensations.

The conductor of the passenger train Tamaz was going to start a fire in the oven of that train. When
he opened the door of the oven suddenly fire came out of the oven and took over his clothes. He
could not fight the fire and fainted. As a result he fell from the train and damaged his left leg.

Tamaz got his face and hands burned and his leg was amputated. It came out that the coal was of
low quality and did not burn fast enough so the harmful smoke was accumulated in the oven. There
was no tool to fight the fire in the train or in the compartment. The accident took place on November
24th, 2006. Due to the damages Tamaz was unable to claim in the court and he filed the complaint
in April 2009. As a result he got one time compensation for moral damage in amount of 2500 GEL
and a monthly pension of 79.75 GEL. The complaint was not fully satisfied because “Georgian Rail-
ways” refused to pay the ‘returns’ (salary) 2 233GEL that Tamaz had not got since 2006 until 2009.

Workers falling from the sky


The accident which happened in Tkibuli is one of the many cases taking place in factories and work-
places in general throughout Georgia. The main reason for this is the unfortunate fact that nowadays
there is no governmental body in charge of monitoring and controlling the rules of security for work-
ers. Untill 2006 the Work Inspection in Georgia existed. However, it was disbanded by the govern-
ment on the grounds that it was highly corrupt. It used to supervise all plants except the dangerous
ones and at the same time was the
co-controlling body of the investi-
gation of the cases of accidents
together with the Governmental
Technical Supervision Inspection.

Besides the Work Inspection till


December 2009 there were two
more Inspections: Technical Su-
pervision Inspection of Georgia
and “Arkmsheninspection”. The
responsibility of the Technical In-
spection was to provide supervi-
sion of dangerous industries and
monitoring the technical side of the
working process, as well as to su-
pervise complex management of
Ramaz Oboladze security technologies and to regu-
late all kinds of breakdowns in order to avoid job related accidents and work injuries.

Ramaz Oboladze, director of the Technical Supervision Inspection of Georgia tells that in December
2009 he ordered to stop periodic check ups of industrial entities. Before this order several times a
year all industries throughout Georgia were being checked. He issued this order on the basis of a
fact that the previous director was arrested for taking a bribe.

“I was sent here like a terminator to solve the administrative problems”, Mr. Oboladze says. He ex-
plained that since December 2009 only those plants were checked where an accident took place as
well as newly built facilities.

“Not checking the manufactures during three months in Georgia didn’t cause things going wrong
there. Neither does it serve as a reason for people dying there more frequently. As you know there
are too many manufacturing plants in Georgia and even before my order there were times when
6
they were not being checked for a longer period than three
months.”

“Arkh-mshen-Inspection” had to cease functioning too. Its


responsibility was to monitor and supervise the construction
sites. The rationale behind abolition of these two checking
bodies was allegedly corruption rife among their ranks.

A new inspection organization is planned for the second half


of this summer. A new law has been written and approved by
the Parliament. However this Law has already been strictly
criticized by the Georgian Trade Unions.

Many workers die due to violation of the security rules at


building sites. There is no one in charge of checking security
measures there. The workers do not have helmets and se-
curity belts while working high on buildings; they are stand-
ing on not fixed scaffolds. As a consequence many workers
die by falling from woods. Only during the last month two
workers died exactly that way.

On June 17th 2010 the 42 year old Vasil Museridze fell from
Georgian worker’s style on the constuctions
the fifteenth floor of a building in downtown Tbilisi while per-
forming construction works and died. According to the administration Vasil Museridze had a long
term experience in the field of construction work. The couse of accident is unknown.

On June 9th 2010 a 53 year old man fell from the eighth floor of a building while performing construc-
tion works and died also in downtown Tbilisi. Why this happened is unknown too.

According to the 6th paragraph of the 1st article of Georgian Government’s Resolution of March
28th 2007 “All workers and engineer technical staff must wear helmets and all relevant works must
be performed by the correspondingly equipped personnel.”

On randomly chosen construction sites in Tbilisi, we witnessed that 82 workers out of 100 didn’t
wear helmets and none of them had a security belt

Real cost of life?


Nowadays professional diseases are not be-
ing officially monitored. Almost none of the
manufactures do conduct preliminary and
periodically medical examinations. Because
of the fact that the medical examinations
became the duty to be paid by the workers,
they are not keen for this, even worse: in
most cases workers hide their deseases in
order to maintain their jobs.

The factories do not pay fees for their em-


ployees who need medical treatment nec-
essary for the professional diseases, while
according to the 35th article paragraph VI
of the Georgian Labor Code, “the employer
7 Workers from Chiatura
must compensate the employee fully the damage incurred to the health of the employee caused by
performance of labor and costs of the necessary medical treatment.”

The largest number of professional diseases and injuries taking place in the mines is in the town of
Chiatura. Workers sometimes have no other choice but to work with lung inflammation in eight hour
shifts for only 280 GEL (127
Euro). In most cases the work-
ers hide their diseases as they
are afraid of loosing their jobs.
They can not afford to loose their
jobs as they do not have suffi-
cient funds for necessary medi-
cal treatment even while being
employed. The workers do not
have many options for choosing
or changing their jobs because
the whole infrastructure of the
town involves the deadly cycle
of mining.

The latest existing data on pro-


fessional diseases is given by
the Georgian Technical super-
vision inspection. It covers the
Mine workers years 2004-2006. There are 85
people in this list from three factories: “Zestafoni - Fero”, “Chiaturmanganumi” and “Tkibulinakh-
shiri”. The major disease named in the list is manganese intoxication and 22 workers are infected
with it. 26 workers are the carriers of chronic and coniogenic bronchitis.

In case a worker dies during fulfillment of his duty at a construction site, most likely the suffered
families are left without compensation due to different circumstances. The main cause to that are
legislation loopholes.

The current piece of Legislation concerning this issue is Georgian Governmental Resolution N53 on
“Compensating the damage caused to the health of a worker while fulfilling one’s labor duties.” This
Resolution was issued in 2007 and it replaced the President’s Decree N48 of February 9th 1999 on
“The rules of compensating the damage caused to the health of a worker while fulfilling one’s labor
duties.”

The changes made to the law turned out to be most unsuitable for those workers who had job re-
lated injuries and are receiving or waiting to receive compensation.

The old 48th Decree completely covered the juridical background of an employer’s obligations in
case of causing damage to the health of a worker during fulfillment of labor duties. Here is a pas-
sage from the 48th Decree:

• The suffered worker must receive his rightful compensation every month for the period of
time defined in the act on loosing the quality of labor possibilities.

• In case the organization no longer has the positions similar to the suffered worker’s position,
the suffered worker must receive triple of the government’s fixed minimal compensation; in this case
more than 10 percent of the sum on the balance of which the organization has being investing. The
suffered worker must receive double compensation of the minimum current salary.

8
The Resolution N53 is more general and does not give specific details. It only obliges the employer
to compensate the worker injured during fulfilling his labor duties if the damage is caused by the fault
of the employer.

The old 48th Decree gave a clear idea about the way of compensating the suffered family in case
of a death of a worker during fulfillment of labor duties: According to the Article 39 of Chapter 2: “in
case of death of a worker during fulfillment of labor duties the suffered family members receive one
time compensation of the amount of 10 year salary of the worker, together with the funeral costs.
The public employees who have died under the same circumstances are buried by the government
or the local government.” however, the new Resolution N53 does not know such case at all.

Most importantly, according to the Resolution N53 workers who were receiving compensation for
being injured during fulfillment of labor duties according to the 48th Decree would not receive any
compensation since March 1st 2007 anymore.

Demonstration in a wheelchair

For the last three years people injured during fulfillment of their labor duties gather in the industrial
towns trying to defend their rights. The majority of the disabled participants of protest actions lives in
remote villages and has to cover long dis-
tances traveling in wheelchairs in order to
attend the protest actions, which means
they are spending their last money on
traveling. They still have a hope and
keep demanding their rightful compen-
sation. Obviously, these suffered people
are unable to financially support their ba-
sic needs including medicines which are
very expensive.

“My leg is badly injured, my knee has


slipped out, plus it is wounded, my pelvis
hurts up to date and I do not have enough
money to buy medicines. The drugs that
my doctor prescribed for stopping the
aches in my pelvis are so expensive that
I am absolutely unable to buy,” says I.
Dvali a participant of protest action in
Chiatura, the little mine town in Georgia .
All the participants of the protest action
are trying to defend their rights through
taking some of the cases to court, writ-
ing complaint letters to the President of
Georgia and asking journalists from local
newspapers to write stories about their
woes.

“We took the complaint into three counts.


Local Court, Regional Court and The Su-
preme Court. The employers were found
guilty by all of them but we are still wait-
9 Demonstratior in Chiatura I. Dvali
ing in vain for our rightful compensation,” says Giorgi Chiladze a participant of the Chiatura protest
action.

Most of the participants of the protest action used to be employed in the mines of Chiatura. There
are 7 mines near this town and nearly 3500 workers are employed there.

Working under wild conditions

A lot of accidents are taking place in the mines of Chiatura due to violation of security rules. At 20:40
on June 13th 2010 the locomotive controlling line broke and fell on the 38 year old locksmith Nodar
Kutaladze. The driver was taking him through the tunnel in a freight train which is strictly forbidden.
Nodar Kutaladze died immediately.

According to the words of Goga


Bregvadze, the representative of the
Trade Union of Imereti Mining Industry
Workers, almost two persons are either
damaged or killed in Chiatura every
month. This is caused by the fact that
the system is too old and the adminis-
tration does not spend funds properly in
order to provide security for the workers.

“The first and the foremost violation


of working security is that there is not
enough illumination in the mines. In
Zestafoni Ferroalloying factory some mines workers are to walk up to
seven kilometers to reach workplace and one will come across only a few bulbs of low watts.

Another issue is that the workers do not have special protective outfits which are supposed to keep
them safe in such cases. The cables running through the mines are covered only by polythene
bags. Besides, the workers do not have the basic equipment such as pliers and isolation band which
makes working in the mines as unsafe as possible. Another big problem is that inside the mines
there are trains as old as 40-50 years that have no shock-absorbers, no lights on them and the work-
ers have to stop the trains manually using ropes,” says G. Bregvadze, from Trade Union.

An ore extracted in Chiatura mines is being transported by a special connecting railway line to the
town of Zestaponi’s Ferroalloying factory “Ferro” and is further processed there.

“Ferro” is one of the biggest plants in the country. Its production amounted 6% of the world’s ferroal-
loys in 2006. Nowadays the export of the ferroalloys is 15.5% of the whole export in Georgia, worth
72,5 Mio $.

Bregvadze says that the situation from the perspective of security rules is no better in Zestafoni than
in Chiatura. “All the current Zestafoni Trade Unions are plant management puppets in reality, and
their work can not be considered to be fair”, Bregvadze claims.

This was the reason why Mr. Bregvadze and his team formed a new Trade Union in 2009 in order
to fight and defend the rights of workers. The new Professional Union takes an active part in fight-
ing injustice and has already organized several important rallies. Their activity has caused serious

10
discontent of the administration board of Zestafoni “Ferro.”

“We have been facing quite serious problems from the side of the administration as there has been
a lot of pressure and threats from them recently. My father can be considered as a victim of their
threats as he together with another employee was fired from his job. The cause of firing them from
their jobs is the fact that we were demanding the improvement of labor security measures, raising
salaries and advancement of social-economical conditions for the workers. In other words we were
fighting for the basic and rightful things for the workers,” Bregvadze says.

In 2008 an explosion took place in Zestaponi ferro-alloying factory that caused the death of two
workers: Temur Khikhadze and Omar Peradze. Six workers were heavily injured. As the representa-
tive of the Georgian Trade Union says, one of the reasons of that accident was water spilled into the
hot oven.

According to the XX chapter article VI of Internal Rules of the Plant there should be a beacon voice
alarm which reports ahead when there is a danger of an explosion. The administration had not re-
vealed that fact and had hidden the names of the six injured workers.

As a consequence they blamed everything on one dead worker, Temur KhiKhadze, which has al-
ready become common in Georgia. Besides, the director included himself into the special investiga-
tion commission set up especially for this explosion, which is, obviously contradicting the investiga-
tion regulations.

The administration of ferro-alloying factory refused to give a comment about the situation in the
plant. As Goga Bregvadze claims it is very hard to enter the “Ferro” even for the representatives of
the local Trade Union.

Three fingers lost for 159 Euro


Rustavi metallurgical plant used to be a major
industry in Soviet times and a pride of Geor-
gian communist elite. Now “Geosteel”, Indian-
Georgian joint venture is the owner. The plant
30 kilometers away from Tbilisi, is stretched
over 13 hectares. 175 000 tons of steel are
produced there in a year.

44 year old Temur Sekhniashili is a resident of


Rustavi who did not get too many choices
when it came to finding a job and started work-
ing at the factory belonging to Geosteel under
quite hard conditions and kept so until one day
when he was on his night shift working with Rustavi metallurgical plant “Geosteel”
fire-bricks.

“I turned on the machine. I was making thermal isolation works. Than a stone fell in this machine and
stuck there. I turned off the machine and put my hand there to get the stone and suddenly it began
whirling itself and tore away three of my fingers.”

Temur had been working in this factory for a year. During the accident he’d already finished his
twelve hours long shift. The accident happened at 6:00 in the morning on March 22, 2010. As Temur
says, during the whole night he had noticed for five times that something was going wrong with the
11
machine. This caused falling of the stones. He informed the
Indian supervisor already for several days before that some-
thing was wrong with the machine. But that night he couldn’t
say anything to the supervisor, because he was afraid to
loose his job. The supervisor would have blamed the dam-
ages on him. That night the mechanic was not there and he
had to do everything by himself.

As the representative of the Georgian Trade Union Viktor


Dolidze says, “the place where Temur was working is not
properly arranged. The mechanism by which an engineer is
working on the machine is located on one side of it and the
remote control on the opposite side. By international stan-
dards they must be located on one side.

The worker should be able conveniently turn off the machine


if something dangerous happens. It is impossible to work
from one side on the machine and if something happens to
run to the other side and turn off the machine.”

The operation fees were covered by the factory. But Temur


didn’t get any other compensation from them. The adminis-
Temur Sekhniashili tration blames everything on him. Temur is going to claim in
court to get a compensation for material and moral damage.

The factory is owned by Indians. Together with Georgians some Indians work in the factory too. As
Temur and his co-workers say, the Georgian workers receive only 350 GEL (159 Euro) for the work
they perform while Indian workers get from 1000 to 2500 GEL (454 to 1136 Euro) for the same job.

Working conditions are generally very bad in “Geosteel”. There are no dressing rooms, dining- or
bathrooms, no toilet and no water to drink. Workers wash their hands and faces with black oiled
water. They do not have special outfits and they can be lucky to sometimes get to wear uniforms of
the Indian Army.

Before starting the working process the workers are not introduced to safety rules and instructions.

“Every worker will agree with me that absolutely no person has ever instructed us on any kind of
safety measures. No one has given us any explanations on what to do and from what to refrain for
our own safety.”

The representative of the Georgian Trade Union requested to see the certificates of the machine
Temur was working with and the factory’s labor rules which are mandatory for every factory to have.
But it turned out that “Geosteel” did not have any of these documents, not even that. The administra-
tion of this plant also refused to give the comment.

In one way Temur’s case helped at least the other workers.


Before they did not have any contracts but after his accident the administration created contracts
for every worker immediately.

Labor Code against workers


The relationship between the employer and the employee is not balanced through the new Labor
Code that was renewed in 2006 by the Georgian Government; as long as the employee desires to
receive the safest labor conditions and a fair salary from the employer, while the employer considers
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minimizing his expenses on behalf of reducing security measures as a priority.

Georgia has gone through many reforms in recent years and a lot of changes have been made to
the Labor Code as well. Unfortunately, according to the new Labor Code an employer was granted
more rights and fewer responsibilities.

Natia Samushia the member of the group of advisers of the Prime Minister says that the fact that the
employer owns a big amount of money and is creating working places does not have to mean that
the employer must have too many responsibilities especially in a country like Georgia where there
is huge unemployment and the state is interested in inviting more and more employers for creating
new jobs. In order to bring in more investors into the country there has to be better conditions for
them in Georgia comparing to other countries.

She says that the new code is more in accordance with modern life than the old one because the
old one was giving more obligations than rights to the employers.

“The old Labor Code as well as most International Regulations including the Regulation of the Euro
Commission considers an employee as an
oppressed who needs protection from his
employer and therefore, put too many obli-
gations on an employer.”

By Ms. Samushia’s logic this means ac-


cording to the current investment policy
of Georgia, if the State wishes to solve
the problem of unemployment it is neces-
sary to take into consideration the needs
and requirements of the employers - and
the death and injury of their citizens at the
same time?

The representative of Georgian Trade Union Viktor Dolidze It is worth noting, that the government of
Georgia tries its best to fit the political course of the country with the European one. However, when
it comes to labor aspects Georgia is a country to be at the lowest possible level where the govern-
ment simply ignores all the advises and recommendations of the Euro Commission.

The Euro Commission issued an intermediate report about Georgia on April the 3rd 2008 which was
dedicated to the issue of the Labor Code. According to the report:

“The labor Code of the year 2006 was prepared without any consultations with the Professional
Unions and does not correspond to the international standards. To be more exact, the Labor Code
says nothing about obligations concerning the freedom of unions defined by the “International Labor
Organization.” The Labor Code contradicts the European Union standards as well as the standards
of the “European Social Charter” ratified by Georgian Parliament in July 2005. If Georgia intends to
continue using “General System of Privileges” of the European Union from 2009 the changes are
mandatory to be made in the Labor Code.”

However, the Georgian government did not take this recommendation of the Euro Commission into
consideration until today.

The second and the fourth paragraphs of the 35th article of the Labor code says general sentences
such as: “the employer takes the responsibility to provide the employee with the information con-
cerning his health and life or have an influence on his security in reasonable period of time,” “dan-

13
gerous hardware must be replaced by a safe or less harmful equipment on time in accordance with
the technological progress.”
The above mentioned paragraphs are meant to represent the obligations of the employer but are
so general and unconditional that they put the employer in a privileged position comparing with the
employee.

The representative of the Professional Union of Georgia Viktor Dolidze brings it to the point:
“The current Labor Code of Georgia is assisting the workers as much as the rope helps the person
intending to hang himself.”

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