New "maidan" in Georgia: metro on strike

New "maidan" in Georgia: metro on strike

Tbilisi metro drivers have been on strike since this morning, demanding an increase in wages. The strike was organized by the Ertoba 2013 metro drivers' union. In turn, the mayor of Georgia's capital Kakha Kaladze condemned the actions of the strikers.

Now the drivers' hourly wage is 7 lari (more than $2.8), but the protesters demand to increase it to 10 lari (more than $4).

"The fact that today the subway does not work and does not provide for the transportation of passengers can be regarded as blackmail of their fellow citizens," Sputnik-Georgia cited the Tbilisi mayor as saying.

Kaladze noted that if he decides in favor of the drivers, it will be unfair to other employees of municipal services. The mayor promised to provide a document, which spelled out the wages of the metro drivers. Their wages are "significantly higher than wages of patrol police, ambulance, rescuers and firefighters," Kaladze said.

The mayor said that in order to avoid a transport collapse,  bus transportation will be free during the strike.

Political scientist Gela Vasadze, speaking to Vestnik Kavkaza, explained the "chain reaction" of Georgian protests by the fact that the citizens are tied of the inefficient work of the authorities. "The current government has been in power for the sixth year already, but the main thing achieved by the Georgian Dream was cleaning up the political field, there is practically no opposition left in the country. The United National Movement still exists, but is extremely weakened," he pointed out.

There was a situation when the Georgian Dream defeated the former authorities in the person of the UNM, but the citizens' life was never improved. "If before they could say that the past power is to blame, now they are in the same position as the UNM in 2012. The requirements for the Georgian Dream are the same - to restore justice," Gela Vasadze said.

"In this regard, when the government, in fact, takes everything on itself, together with the power, it assumes total responsibility for everything happening in Georgia. Now we see the system built by the Georgian Dream started falling apart. For example, last week, when the father of a murdered teenager did not achieve the truth, or today, when the metro was stopped, the people immediately express their indignation over the authorities and demand its overthrow," the expert added.

In this regard, the Georgian Dream must change the system of its relations with citizens. "The further growth of the protest movement is inevitable, as long as the government does not try to establish communication with the citizens. The critical mass of discontent has accumulated and now it is splashing out onto the streets. To stop this, the authorities should punish all the perpetrators who covered the murder of a teenager. In fact, the authorities must be strong and open at the same time. When the authorities are weak and closed, it causes such protests," Gela Vasadze stressed.

Political scientist Josef Tsiskarishvili blamed Mikhail Saakashvili for inciting such actions. "Such actions have different reasons, the dissatisfaction with the current authorities in Georgia is expressed quite objectively. But now the third president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, entered the game. He calls it the 'Georgian spring', and even the 'Caucasian Spring' in English, hinting at Armenia and giving instructions to follow the 'Armenian spring' in Georgia," the expert explained.

"Alas, the current authorities, which we called the Georgian Dream, turned out to be quite far from Georgia, the parliamentarians and government members only think of themselves in front of a huge number of frail people," he pointed out.

"The protests directly point out to the current authorities what people want, but so far the authorities have only reached the point where they set up a special commission on the murder of schoolchildren. There is still some hope that our 'dreamers' will be able to improve the current situation in the country, but so far it's getting worse. When there is a party in the country that fully controls the state, and its chairman, Mr. Ivanishvili is hiding, one should not be surprised at what is happening in Georgia," Josef Tsiskarishvili concluded.