Georgia - Anti-union discrimination continues at RMG Gold

Anti-union discrimination and intimidation continued at RMG Gold in Kazreti, following the company’s attempts to destroy the union by forcing nearly 1,000 individuals to leave, as reported in the Survey in March 2015.
On 30 September 2015 representatives of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC), along with leaders of the Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers’ Trade Union, visited Kazreti to meet with local employees, to investigate reports of continued intimidation and to try to rebuild the union. The town itself is virtually controlled by RMG Gold, with most of the population employed by the company.

On an earlier visit to the town by two GTUC staff members, RMG Gold security guards followed them around taking pictures. The residents were scared to speak to them in case the company decided to retaliate by firing them or their family members. During the second trip on 30 September, the union representatives spoke to many people in the town, who talked of problems ranging from low wages to serious health hazards. On the first night of their visit, an RMG director tried to intimidate the union volunteers who were talking to workers at a bus stop. He also denied any health hazards or environmental pollution, claiming the cyanide used in mining gold is not the kind of cyanide that is harmful.

The second day of the visit was marred by serious interference. A public meeting had been organised to address the major problems faced by the workers and to correct the false stories spread about the union by RMG Gold. A representative from RMG Gold management, Lia Ajiashvili, disrupted proceedings before the meeting even began, honking a small horn outside the meeting venue. Later, inside the meeting, she shouted every time the union representatives tried to speak, effectively preventing them from conducting the meeting. Many of those who had come to take part left the meeting. On the previous day the workers and townspeople had aired their grievances against the company, and said they wanted to organise to improve their working conditions, but faced with the aggressive stand by the RMG representative, they no longer dared air those views to a wider audience.

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