“The safety of workers in Georgia’s mines is at serious risk,” reads the beginning of the first paragraph of the Human Rights Watch research “No Year without Deaths: A Decade of Deregulation Puts Georgian Miners at Risk”.
The 60-page research says that the risk is caused by “insufficient government regulation and resulting mining practices that prioritize production quotas and put workers’ safety in jeopardy”.
Human Rights Watch reports that the research “documents how weak labor protections and limited government oversight have allowed mining practices that undermine safety to flourish”.
The research says that the Georgian Manganese company, the largest manganese producer, operates 11 mines as well as a processing plant and has about 3,500 workers.
Human Rights Watch enquired the workers at GM mines who said “because they worked 12-hour shifts underground, including at night, for 15 straight days, they were often exhausted, and they had faced penalties for failure to make quotas”.
The research also read that the coal miners for Saknakhshiri LLC also said the working conditions heightened risks to safety and labor rights.
“Human Rights Watch cited other practices at odds with workers’ rights. These include long hours, inadequate breaks, and no weekly rest days, non-payment of overtime hours, failure to provide copies of written contracts, and unfair wage deductions,” the report reads.
Human Rights Watch also recalls the death of 10 miners in two accidents in 2018 underlining that Georgia “was shaken”.
In conclusion, the research says that mining companies should respect workers’ rights and the safety of their employees in Georgia and work with employees to conduct reforms aimed at improving safety.
More than 400 workers have died in the workplace between 2010 and 2018, official data of the Interior Ministry of Georgia read. (Agenda/Ukrainian metal)