Tkibuli Miners Demand Safer Working Conditions

The initiative group of the miners from Tkibuli, a town in west-central Georgia, Imereti region, has add­ressed the coal mining company, Saknakhshiri, demanding a safe working environment and proper labor conditions.

The miners’ statement came around two weeks after the tunnel collapse in Mindeli mine in Tkibuli, which left six miners dead and three injured.

In their April 15 address to Saknakhshiri, the workers have listed three main demands:

• To temporarily suspend the operation of the Tkibuli mines.

“The company and the State must improve the existing labor conditions and safety problems in the mines,” the statement reads.

• Make a collective agreement between the employer and the employees, which will provide adequate employment and social guarantees for the miners.

• Immediately dismiss those who were responsible for safety in the mines, or lack thereof, which resulted in the recent incident.

Two days ago, one of the miners working in Tkibuli mining enterprise shot a video depicting the working conditions in the mine, which went viral on social networks.

The video was released by the Non-Governmental Organization Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC).

Miners often claim that the working conditions in the mine are not in line with the regulations, adding they are risking their lives on a daily basis.

Saknakhshiri claims the recent tragedy in Mindeli mine did not happen due to a breach of safety norms.

“There was a mining blow that led to the ceiling collapse. A huge amount of air pressure was created, leading to deaths and injuries. I cannot call it a violation of safety norms because it is impossible to predict such things,” Director of Saknakhshiri, Jambul Jakeli, stated.

Saknakhshiri is the only coal mining company in Georgia. The company comprises operations such as coal mining, coal handling, preparation of run-of-mine coal and electricity generation. Trading House Saknakhshiri LLC is a subsidiary of Saknakhshiri (GIG group) LLC and is engaged in international trade.

There are two coal mines in operation: Mindeli and Dzidziguri. Both are part of the Tkibuli-Shaori coal basin which is located in the mountainous areas of Imereti close to Racha.

In total, 11 miners have lost their lives in Mindeli mine in Tkibuli in the last two years. However, since 2010, the total amount of deceased in Mindeli mine amounts to 25.

By Thea Morrison

16 April 2018 18:06