Gov’t mediators resolve lengthy miners’ strike

German and Georgian archaeologists claim that Sakdrisi gold mine is the oldest mine in the world., 25 Mar 2014 - 22:01, Tbilisi,Georgia

The longest strike in Georgia’s history has ended with both parties reconciling today.

Employees of RMG mining company will return to work tomorrow after almost two month-long strike.

The agreement between the strikers and the company’s administration was achieved after the Government appointed a mediator who assisted the parties to negotiate.

Lawyer Irakli Kandashvili served as the main negotiator. The Georgian Government was represented during the mediation process by the Government Administration’s advisor Beka Natsvlishvili and head of the Department of Labour and Employment of the Health Ministry, Paata Zhorzholiani.

Along with RMG figureheads and its employees, members of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC) and International Labour Organisation experts were also involved in the mediation process.

This was the first time in the country’s history when a dispute between an employer and employees was resolved by a mediatory body created by the state.

  • The accepted agreement will see 80 fired employees be reinstated by RMG Gold and RGM Copper. The staff were let go in January 2014. The rest of the laid-off workforce will be reinstated once the company’s financial situation improved.
  • Also, two weeks after the end of the strike, employees will be given two months back-pay as compensation. If the company is unable to reinstate these individuals within two months of the strike, then the company should compensate them with a third month of pay.
  • In addition, a prioritized list will be created for the sacked employees and utilized to offer them jobs if any open positions were announced.
  • In accordance with the agreement, as soon as the strike ended (March 25, 2014 at 8am), the strikers would return to their positions and the company would release the contractors temporarily hired to keep the refinery running during the strike.
  • A compromise was also reached regarding employee pay increases. From April this year, individuals on the lowest pay rate in the company will receive a 15 percent raise. From November 1, the company administration will begin negotiations on pay raises for the year of 2015 with all employees.
  • RMG Gold and RMG Copper will take responsibility for balancing and enforcing pay rate equality in cases where individuals employed in identical positions shall receive equal pay. Once this is implemented, from October pay will be equalized between the two refineries.
  • An agreement was also reached regarding the creation of a permanent Commission tasked with investigating work disputes, complaints and issues in the workplace environment, as well as other topics relating to employee participation.
  • Together with these amendments, RMG Gold and RMG Copper administration agreed to fulfill the demands of the strikers in the area of improving work conditions.
  • Within a week of the end of the strike, the director of the company will sign an order on the creation of a collective bargaining commission.

In late January last year, RMG Gold mining company laid off more than 180 workers, which sparked a large percentage of workers to strike from the plant in the small town of Kazreti on February 14.

The company said it was forced to lay off workers because of "significantly downscaled mining activities” as it was not able to dig gold from Sakdrisi.

Striking workers demanded a pay increase, improvement of working conditions and reinstatement of sacked employees, among other things.

Complaining over lack of attention by the Government, a group of strikers arrived in Tbilisi on March 7 and held a rally outside the Government’s office, after which the PM’s office said its representatives would try to mediate between the strikers and the employer.