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Georgia miners' safety at risk due to insufficient govt regulation & business practices, says HRW report

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28 August 2019

Press release: Georgia: Worker rights, safety at risk

Author: Human Rights Watch

The safety of workers in Georgia’s mines is at serious risk due to insufficient government regulation and resulting mining practices that prioritize production quotas and put workers’ safety in jeopardy, Human Rights Watch said in a report...The 60-page report “‘No Year without Deaths’: A Decade of Deregulation Puts Georgian Miners at Risk” documents how weak labor protections and limited government oversight have allowed mining practices that undermine safety to flourish. Georgian labor law does not sufficiently regulate working hours, rest time, weekly breaks, and night work, and does not provide for government oversight of all labor conditions...The largest manganese producer, Georgian Manganese (GM), operates 11 mines and a processing plant, employing about 3,500 workers. Workers at GM mines told Human Rights Watch that because they work 12-hour shifts underground, including at night, for 15 straight days, they are often exhausted, and they have faced penalties for failure to make quotas. Miners said that in a rush to meet quotas or without sufficient rest, workers had suffered deep cuts, were buried under rocks as roofs collapsed, lost limbs, suffered concussions, or narrowly avoided serious accidents...

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28 August 2019

‘No year without deaths’: A decade of deregulation puts Georgian miners at risk

Author: Human Rights Watch

...Based on interviews with over 80 people, including workers in a coal and a manganese mine in Georgia and their families, trade unions, lawyers, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), representatives of international organizations, representatives of the Labor Inspectorate and the Labor Ministry, and members of Parliament, this report finds that workers’ safety in mines continues to be at serious risk due to insufficient regulation by the government and resulting mining practices that prioritize production quotas and put workers’ safety in jeopardy. We documented that coal and manganese mining practices of imposing quotas, and wage deductions for failure to meet quotas, have the effect of incentivizing workers and supervisors to compromise worker safety. A new system of manganese mining, implemented in 2016, further exacerbates safety concerns. The system introduced 12-hour shifts, including at night, over 15 consecutive days, with no days off or formal breaks during shifts. It currently affects 380 manganese workers and imposes an obligation to reside in employer-provided accommodation where workers are provided with poor quality food of insufficient calorific value and endure restrictions on their freedom of movement. The report highlights other practices that violate workers’ rights. These include long hours and no weekly rest, nonpayment of overtime hours, failure to provide copies of written contracts, and management’s deduction from wages...

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