On September 24, media reported that a man died after falling into a concrete processing plant at a factory in Vashlovani, Khulo municipality. A criminal case has been initiated and the investigation is ongoing.
Despite the alarming nature of the incident, the media and government have provided no confirmed information about the incident or the state’s response. Media and public attention have been minimal.
According to unconfirmed reports, the incident occurred at the Aisi LLC concrete factory in the village of Vashlovani. Local residents have been protesting the factory’s operations since 2018, namely because proper ecological and social assessments were not conducted before it opened. Despite these objections, the factory continues to operate. Aisi LLC has links to the family of Anzor Bolkvadze, a majority party Member of Parliament whose district includes Khulo, Shuakhevi, Kedi and Khelvachauri.
Unconfirmed reports state that the victim is 25-year-old Tornike Gorgiladze, a soldier in the Georgian armed forces who worked at the concrete factory to help supplement his income. The reports also say he had come to Adjara as an eco-migrant (i.e., he was forced to leave his hometown due to environmental impacts) and was living in social housing. According to a report from Adjara Public Broadcaster, social housing for eco-migrants is located next the Ainsi concrete factory.
The incident is yet another tragic example of workers’ health and safety taking a backseat to the intertwined interests of business and politicians. It also illustrates the dangers faced by vulnerable groups in the labor force.
The circumstances of the case demand an aggressive and vocal response from authorities and the media – both to ensure justice and to prevent similar future cases. We therefore call on:
- The Labor Inspectorate to act in a timely manner to identify the place of employment, carry out an immediate inspection, and if necessary, suspend the operations of the enterprise;
- Government investigative bodies to conduct their investigation as quickly and efficiently as possible; and
- The media to strengthen public awareness of workplace injuries and deaths by providing accurate, confirmed information regarding the accident in Khulo and by reporting on the government’s response.