Over 1,000 workers were killed or injured in occupational accidents in Georgia from 2011–2016, according to data compiled by the Applied Research Company, a consultancy. Almost every month, yet another worker plunges to his death from Tbilisi’s shockingly unprotected highrise construction sites or a story of worker humiliation or exploitation hits the news. Labour issues have returned as fertile ground for Georgian activism.
In May 2016, Tbilisi’s Kiwi Café — a vegan hangout for city hipsters — was hit by nationalist youths armed with meat sausages. The grotesque spectacle was obvious click-bait in today’s attention seeking social media, but it did highlight a new trend: social and lifestyle issues increasingly trump Georgia’s latent political rifts, and young people are at the forefront of this evolution.
A wave of protests unusually widespread for Georgian leftist groups hit the capital Tbilisi this winter, after revelations of dreadful labour conditions in the country emerged. The question is, whether the protests can be transformed into a genuine, grassroots left-wing movement.