Striking truck drivers at Rikoti Pass: Chinese company has a history of safety violations

25 Apr, 2023

A strike called by truck drivers working on the construction of the Rikoti Pass highway has entered its second week. The drivers are demanding increased wages and say that their employer – the China State Construction Engineering Corporation –  is not complying with Georgian law regarding limits on daily working hours.

The striking drivers also say that the company is not observing safety standards – which has been a problem in the past, according to Labor Inspection Service reports published in our Labor Rights Monitor. The Labor Rights Monitor is a database of reports prepared by the Labor Inspection Service, which we obtain through regular Freedom of Information requests.

According to Monitor data, labor safety inspections of the China State Construction Engineering Corporation were carried out in January and February of 2021. The labor inspectorate found a total of 17 safety violations, including:

  • Failure to develop and/or implement a risk assessment policy;
  • Lack of training, including safety training;
  • No system to check alcohol or substance intoxication in the workplace;
  • Failure to inspect or maintain safety of equipment and personal protective gear;
  • Failure to provide employees with functioning personal protective equipment;
  • Inadequate sanitary & hygienic standards;
  • Failure to assess physical, chemical or biological risk factors;
  • Lack of general protective measures (ventilation, protective shields for machinery, etc.);
  • did not comply with safety measures defined by technical regulations (electrical safety, storage of cylinders, etc.); and
  • Used dangerous work tools or equipment (except personal protective equipment).

According to data available on the Monitor, a re-inspection of the work site has not yet been carried out to determine whether the violations were corrected (however, it is possible that the Labor Inspection Service failed to include that report in response to our Freedom of Information request).

The Monitor also contains an inspection report regarding an employee who was injured as a result of an accident at the workplace. China State Construction Engineering Corporation failed to report the accident, as required by law, and was fined 1,000 GEL.

Given this history of safety issues at the company’s work sites – coupled with striking workers’ allegations of lax safety measures – the labor inspectorate should immediately examine working conditions and safety norms at the Rikoti Pass highway site.

For more background on the strike, see our statement of April 21, 2023.

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