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Road construction workers protest in Akhaltsikhe

8 May 2017
(Luba Giorgadze/ Samkhretis Karibche)

Around 40 workers reconstructing an 8.5 km section of road between Batumi and Akhaltsikhe went on strike on 3 May, after not receiving any payment for three months of work. They resumed work on Monday after being promised that they will be paid on 17 May, but they warn that the strike will continue if the company does not pay them on the promised day.

‘It’s been eight months that construction works have been going on, and they delay our payment almost every month. We haven’t been paid at all for the last three months. They owe each of us about ₾9,000 ($3,700)’, Temur Inasaridze, who drives of a lorry as part of the works, told Samkhretis Karibche.

According to Inasaridze, only some of the workers joined the strike on the first day, while there are about 60 people employed on the construction and the company owes all of them money.

‘They promise us every month that they will pay. Relying on that, I took a loan from the bank and now I cannot pay it’, Temur Ghviniashvili says, adding that the work was really difficult, and that they had to work all day without breaks.

The strikers wanted to meet with the administration of the construction company, but no one met them in the beginning of the strike.

Georgia’s Roads Department says that the construction company, Chelyabinsktranssignal, has already been fully paid, and so they are responsible for paying workers.

(Luba Giorgadze/ Samkhretis Karibche)

By the second day of the strike, workers did not gather to protest but simply did not show up to work. At the end of the day, the Road Department issued a short statement claiming that the company would reimburse workers by the end of the week.

However, work did not resume until the company agreed to meet with workers, and personally promised to reimburse them on 17 May.

(Luba Giorgadze/ Samkhretis Karibche)

‘They told us that they had some errors in documents and that’s why they failed to pay us. We will wait, and if they don’t fulfill their promise, we will continue the strike’, Inasaridze said.

Giorgi Tsereteli, a spokesperson for Chelyabinsktranssignal, assured Samkhretis Karibche that the workers will be paid, but declined to comment on what the reason for the delay was.

The Roads Department announced an ₾8.8 million ($3.6 million) tender to reconstruct the 8.5 km section of the Batumi-Akhaltsikhe road in January 2016. The works began in spring 2016, and only one kilometer is left.

Red - road to Batumi through Goderdzi pass; blue - section to reconstruct; brown - road to Batumi through Khashuri (Samkhretis Karibche)

Only two roads connect Batumi on the Black Sea coast with Akhaltsikhe, a city in southern part of Georgia. The route through Khashuri, which is around 320 km, and the road over the Goderdzi Pass, which  is 161 km.

(Luba Giorgadze/ Samkhretis Karibche)

The original version of the article was published on our partner website Samkhretis Karibche.

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