It is time for new ministers to tackle social issues. As election fever faded, Georgians remembered their day to day problems. Refugees occupy state and private buildings demanding housing while railway station workers and miners go on strike. Perhaps the first test of the new government is right ahead of us.
Demanding a place to live
Refuges occupied few state and private buildings throughout Georgia demanding from the new government to privatize housing. Housing for internally displaced people is a problem which no government was able to solve, though since the Rose Revolution illegal occupation of buildings became rare. The problem popped up suddenly as the new ministers from Ivanishvili’s team occupied the chairs a week ago.
The new government promises to tackle the problem through negotiations. The new minister, Davit Darakhvelidze, keeps the safe line so far, promising to guard the rights of citizens as well as those who own the occupied spaces. The issue is stuck so far, waiting for the promised negotiations.
The occupied buildings include old state properties, some of which are already privatized. In a long perspective, old and rotten, those buildings are unsuitable for living anyway. There are also allegations that such a sudden outburst of protests is backed by the previous government, perhaps to spoil the sweet victory for the new team.
A group of people also demanded housing at the city hall few days ago, which resulted in an argument between the citizens and city hall personnel. Some even went on hunger strike gathered in front of the building of the Ministry of Healthcare, already ready to through mud at the new government.
Waiting for New Labor Code
Miners and railway station workers go on strike demanding higher wages and better working conditions. Miners at town of Chiatura say they have “the same conditions as the Black people had 200 years ago.” Journal Liberali posted a video depicting the work conditions at mines. Broken wardrobes in changing rooms and ancient showers drew the public attention, though it couldn’t have caught anyone by surprise.
Railway station workers are in disagreement with the management, and workers of few other large Georgian companies joined the protests.
The Labor Code is assessed as one of the weakest links in Georgian legislature, giving too many rights to the employers. The new government promised the issue to be first on the agenda but the public seems impatient to wait for the legal changes.
Some assess the events as positive, claiming it speaks of increasing democracy. However, the right to protest does not give the solution to the problem itself. The new government, still timid in its actions, speaks of commissions that will be formed to study each case and of negotiations that will be held. Many think that strikes and protests that burst out within the last week become the first test of the new government.