TV Formula has fired 23 of its camera operators who had been on strike demanding better pay.
The camera operators were let go on Friday night after unsuccessful negotiations with Formula, according to the TV channel’s lawyer Eto Katamadze.
‘Their demand was a salary raise. They were informed that it was not being discussed at this point due to financial reasons and the budgetary plans of the company,’ Katamadze told OC Media.
Netgazeti has quoted a letter penned by the fired camera operators, in which they vowed to take their case to court and to appeal to the Public Defender's office.
‘In response [to our demands], we were met with humiliation and rejection,’ read the letter.
Katamadze said that the camera operators who have been on strike since 31 January did not abide by formal procedures to initiate their strike.
‘We repeatedly appealed to them to end their protest and resort to formal procedures [of initiating strikes],’ she said.
Georgian legislation only allows workers to go on strike 21 days after they begin negotiating with their employers.
Katamadze said the employees were given 18:00 on 3 February as a deadline to return to work.
‘Since legal standards of strikes were violated, this is not a strike: it was a protest that did not have a justifiable form,’ she said. ‘Therefore, after numerous attempts [to reach an understanding with the employees], the administration made this decision.’
It remains unclear whether the camera operators were unionised or had the backing of any unions.
Earlier on Friday, Nana Intskirveli, Formula’s news director, told Netgazeti that the channel faced difficulties producing and broadcasting news because of the ongoing protests.
The television channel refrained from disclosing any details about the camera operators’ original salaries or their demands, citing confidentiality agreements.