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Two workers were injured on 29 July after an accident in a tunnel they were working on. Despite denials from the construction company, trade unions claim that labour safety rules were breached.
According to China Railway 23rd Bureau Group, the workers were injured near the village of Bezhatubani, in Kharagauli Municipality, after a small rock fell in the tunnel.
The tunnel is part of the Khashuri–Kharagauli–Zestaponi railway line.
‘The New Trade Union investigated the company in May and gave thorough recommendations to management’, Ilia Lejava, the head of the Georgian Railway Workers’ New Trade Union told Netgazeti.
According to Lejava, labour safety rules were ‘heavily violated’. ‘Trade unions have no other leverage over companies but to give recommendations’, he added, imposing responsibility on the company and Georgian National Railway.
Georgian Railway has denied all responsibility, telling Netgazeti that ‘Georgian Railway is not a controlling body of labour safety standards. The only thing that we are responsible for is whether [the tunnel], after being built, meets standards’.
China Railway 23rd Bureau Group denied any wrongdoing claiming that ‘during construction, labour safety rules strictly complied with standards. [The workers] were provided with appropriate equipment’.
Tamaz Talakhadze, one of the workers, was heavily injured and rushed to Tbilisi’s Lancet clinic.
The company has said it will cover all the expenses for his medical treatment.
The Interior Ministry has launched an investigation for violations of health and safety rules.
According to Bloomberg, the company is based in Chengdu, China, and is a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corp.
Georgian workers for the company have complained of tough labour conditions and went on strike for several weeks in August and September 2016.
The company has denied accusations it employs abusive labour practices.
[Read more on OC Media: Fatal workplace accidents show ‘need for labour inspection reform’]