Up to 30 miners have gone to the mine in Georgia’s western Tkibuli municipality and have plans to stay there until their employer gives them and others their salaries and the government decides on the fate of mines.
Work has been suspended in the Mindeli and Dzidziguri mines of Tkibuli since July 16, 2018 after a fatal explosion left four miners died and six others injured.
The Georgian government invited German experts to study the situation in the mines and promised salaries and insurance coverage before the mines were reopened.
“We should have received our salaries (one-month salary) before September 15. However, we have not received them yet. We have nothing to cover our everyday needs, bank obligations and communal fees,” miners say.
The miners stated that the mines were “the only source of income” for many of the families in Tkibuli and demanded from the government to tell them whether the mines would reopen or not.
Saknakhshiri says that with the help of the government more than 20 million GEL has been spent on salaries over the past 13 months, the time mines were closed. They say that they are in talks with the government to gives miners their August salary. The professional union says that the conclusion of the German experts was delivered in December 2018 and the government “has not yet shared it with us or any involved parties.”
Georgian Minister of Economy has urged the employer to pay the salaries and meet the contract obligations.
The ministry stated that the conclusion of the German DMT company revealed safety violations in Tkibuli mines and Sakhshiri was given recommendations to eradicate the flaws one year ago.
“Meeting the recommendations will lead to the reopening of the mines,” the ministry reports.
Saknakhshiri, a daughter company of Georgian Industrial Group (GIG), which owns the mines, says that the company faces financial problems due to the suspended work, promising giving the salaries to miners at the beginning of October.
“Contracts read that we have the obligation to give salaries between the 15th and 27th of the month. However, we have always given salaries before the 15th. It is the first time the process was delayed,” Saknakhshiri says.
In 2018, 29 died and 24 received injuries at the workplace. Of the 29 deaths, 11 were miners.
Georgian public defender Nino Lomjaria stated last week that 106 people died and 305 received injures at the workplace in 2018-2019. (Agenda/Ukrainian metal)