Georgia: Employees of IDS Borjomi Georgia, a Russian-owned Georgian mineral water company, who did not sign new labour contracts due to unacceptable terms and conditions, said they were called on the phone and forced to sign the agreement. If they do not, they are threatened that they will be fired from the job.
Borjomi employees talked about threats and intimidation a few weeks ago following the company halted its operations in both of its Georgian plants due to sanctions and challenging circumstances surrounding Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.
Employees say they have left with little time to sign a new controversial labour contract. According to them, Irakli Stepnadze, who is not an administration employee and works in distribution, makes phone calls.
“There is a process of intimidation, blackmail. The company is making every effort, the contract they want to carry out. Blackmail is going. How can this be? -One employee said.
As per the sources, some journalists contacted Irakli Stepnadze regarding the current situation, but he did not answer the questions.
The company Borjomi stopped production on April 29 and decided to shut down both factories. The reason is the sanctions imposed by the West on Russia and Russian businessmen – the Russian company Alpha Group, the owner of Borjomi, which was included in the list of sanctions – has frozen its accounts.
The factories employ over 1000 people. After the production was stopped, the company offered them new salary conditions – the employees’ salaries were halved, and they would also receive 125% instead of the existing 140% in overtime work.
The company Borjomi fired 49 employees who did not sign the new terms. Dismissed employees are demanding reinstatement in service and resumption of work under the old contract.
IDS Borjomi’s controlling stake was purchased by Alfa Group in 2013. The founder of Alfa Group is the sanctioned Russian billionaire Mikhail Friedman.
Until June 2021, its director was Mikhail Provotorov, a Russian citizen who was replaced by the former Minister of Finance of Georgia, Ivane Machavariani.