Warning of the European Union remains unattended
03 November, 2011

Even American Ambassador John Bass decided to advise the Georgian Government to change its Labor Code. The European Commission has repeatedly stated that they could not start negotiations with Georgia on detailed and comprehensive free trade agreement unless the Georgian Government fulfilled EU recommendations. One of the recommendations considers protection of labor rights. The Authorities nevertheless are openly proclaiming that for them the only priority is the employers, rights because employers generate money for the country.

John Bass underlined that the

United States support fundamental rights, which among others include rights of collective agreement and unions and labor rights.

According to Bass, he often hears that certain points of the code cannot be changed. Yet, the American Ambassador is convinced that the country has to solve such problems if it is to become successful.

It needs to be noted that the latest EU report on Georgia’s progress towards realization of European Neighborhood Policy requirements indicates that labor rights remain as a challenge.

“International Labor Organization (ILO) expressed its concern about the fact that Georgia is failing to meet requirements foreseen in the major convention in the sphere of labor rights and international labor standards. Their disregard jeopardizes the right of Georgia to take advantage of the general system of preferences in the trade with the EU,” – the report reads.

Guy Rieder, ILO Executive Director, explains that the Georgian Labor Code does not fit into international standards. He says his organization watches closely current labor relations in Georgia because lately it receives very worrying news.

This summer Tbilisi Mayor Gigi Ugulava pointed out that the country needs to protect rights of employers more than those of employees. He is sure that the country should ensure comfort for employers.

“As far as we are overwhelmingly dependent on direct foreign investments, we are obliged to protect and provide comfort to employers as they are coming with money,” – opined Ugulava.

Representatives of Georgian trade unions think that today’s labor code is a legacy of oblique medieval thinking. According to article 37, employers can fire their employees without any reason.

As we already remarked, the Government would not listen to a single word of reasoning and points to business lobbying as a reason behind its stubbornness. So, warning of the European Union remains unattended.

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