Drivers strike for fair conditions

28 Feb 2014

Bus drivers in Batumi, Georgia went on strike for nine days this month in the fight for improved working conditions. The Bus Drivers Union (BDU) is a member of the ITF-affiliated Republican Committee of Trade Unions of Georgian Automobile Transport and Highways’ Workers.

The dispute arose when employers Batumi Auto Transport (BAT) went back on an agreement to improve working conditions and put pay up from 4 GEL (USD 2.29) an hour to 4.5 GEL (USD 2.58) an hour. According to media reports, BAT has diverted funds earmarked for worker raises to open new bus lines.

The strike, which started on 10 February, has been widely supported. The Georgian Seafarers’ Union and the Dockers’ Union took part in the strike. The Doctors’ Union and representatives of the Trade Union Confederation of Adjara also supported the action. The General Director of BAT has now resigned – but wages remain the same.

The ITF has intervened in the dispute, expressing its support for the union. It has called on local government to ensure the issues raised by the dispute are solved quickly through meaningful social dialogue.

ITF inland transport secretary Mac Urata said: “Quality public transport, ensuring safety both for drivers and passengers, can be provided only by workers who have decent working conditions and wages. It’s clear to us that BAT must invest in its employees to ensure its future. We’ll continue to watch the unfolding situation closely.”