Drivers of the capital’s buses have joined a wave of strikes that have rocked Georgia since the parliamentary election in October. They walked out this morning, with 1,300 drivers out across Tblisi's three garages. They have issued a declaration with 17 demands. The main ones are for better working conditions and increased
salaries, but they also include payment for work they did during the war
in August 2008, when the city's buses were deployed to transport
soldiers. The drivers have said this is only a warning strike – if their demands aren’t met they will move on to a much larger scale protest.
Yesterday, different groups of metal workers and miners held a rally at the parliament building in Kutaisi in western Georgia, demanding amendments to the labour code, which doesn’t give any rights to workers, but gives rights to their bosses. Meanwhile workers at the energy company Telasi also went on strike. Their main demand was to fire the commercial director of the company, who has resigned. However workers claim that the former director’s team is still on their posts. Two days ago, miners in the coal town Tkibuli went on strike. About 1,200 workers at the Saknakhshiri mining company protested outside the administrative building demanding an pay increase of 60 percent and holidays on the days defined by the constitution.
Alongside this industrial action, Georgia has been hit by a wave of protests and direct action – including people sewing their mouths shut and going on hunger strike, refugees and socially vulnerable people breaking into empty buildings demanding to be given a place to live, and disorder in several prisons.