Georgian workers continue to experience severe trade union repression at the hands of both the employer and the government. The latest attack comes at Hercules Steel, a Georgian-Indian joint venture in Kutaisi, Georgia. Workers formed a trade union on 4 August 2011. However, the employer refused to recognize the union and fired six leaders. As the employer refused to seek a negotiated solution, workers had no option but to strike, some going on a hunger strike. On 15 September, the governor and 50 police vehicles stormed the plant and arrested 40 workers. Immediately after the strikers were dispersed, the police and management representatives called and visited workers demanding that they return to work under penalty of arrest. The police also forced detained workers to sign statements promising not to protest and to return to work immediately. In addition to the industrial conflict, information has emerged that over 100 Indian migrant workers have had their passports withheld and have been forced to live in squalid living conditions. Wages and working conditions are very poor. Workers wanting to leave in advance of the expiration of their contract have not been allowed to leave. We are urging the Georgian government to intervene in this matter to ensure the domestic and international labour rights of Georgian and Indian workers are fully respected.
labourstart.org, Thurs Sept 22 2011