Workers Win at the Rustavi Azot Plant
Fifty-six workers of the Rustavi Azot chemical plant in Rustavi, Georgia, were reinstated to their jobs and fully compensated for more than one year’s worth of delayed wage pay. The Rustavi City Court made this ruling after 14 months of court proceedings – more than 300 workers suffered mass illegal dismissals and sought justice for their violated rights.
Rustavi Azot, located in the vicinity of Tbilisi, is the sole manufacturer of mineral and nitrogen fertilizers in the South Caucasus. Its output is in high demand abroad: about 85% of the plant production is exported to 20 countries around the world.
In 2017, a change in plant ownership precipitated a large number of dismissals (335 workers fired, out of 2300 employees). Numerous workers’ rallies were held in protest of the decision.
As the management prescribed, 2010 employees were required to sign employment contracts on new terms, and the other workers were offered severance compensation (about 185 USD, to be paid within 3 months).
56 workers contested the decision and applied to the court. Lawyers of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) represented the workers in the case, in solidarity with the workers whose rights were violated.
During the court hearing, the company administration claimed that dismissals were initiated by the previous owner, and therefore denied any responsibility towards the terminated workers.
GTUC lawyers provided proof that the new management had taken over the plant as of 1 January 2017 and, therefore, was accountable for the mass dismissals.
And of 28 March 2018, the court ruled to restore the 56 unlawfully dismissed employees with full compensation payment. The plant administration announced an intention to appeal the court decision.