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Gov’t to amend labor law

By Tea Mariamidze
Tuesday, February 14
The former employees of supermarket chain Fresco and book store chain Biblus protested saying that their labor rights were grossly violated. The government is going to make amendments to the labor laws and tighten the supervision of labor rights throughout the country.

A special trilateral meeting was held at the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, where representatives of the Trade Unions, Employers Association and ministries presented their views over the issue.

The participants of the meeting discussed the Labor Safety and health protection bill and other issues of labor rights.

“Our aim is to create special labor rights policy. The trilateral Commission and government will establish the ways of its implementation,” Davit Sergeenko, the Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs said, adding that the rights of the employees and the employers should be equally protected.

The Minister stated that the responsibility of labor conditions supervision does not lay only on the Labor Inspection, which monitors labor conditions in different places.

Sergeenko believes that only strengthening the labor inspection laws will not bring positive results if other branches of labor monitoring are not fully involved in the process.

The Minister said that in total there are six branches of the system which should implement the monitoring of labor rights: Labor Inspection, Technical Supervision Service under the Ministry of Economy, Local Municipalities’ Technical Supervision Service, Rescue Service of the Interior Ministry, Institute of Professional Deceases under the Health Ministry and Technical Supervision Service of the employing companies.

“All six branches need equal improvement and our responsibility is to take care of the smooth operation of the system itself,” stressed Sergeenko.

The Trilateral Commission function is to provide social dialogue between the employees, employers and the Government. The last meeting of the Commission took place on April 11, 2016.

Employees of the Fresco supermarket chain last week used social media to expose their belief that their rights were severely violated.

In a post published on Facebook, the Fresco workers say the treatment of Fresco towards its employees can be considered “inhumane” and an example of “modern slavery”. The post then goes on to state that although the Georgian labor code sets the legal working week as a maximum of 48 hours, the Fresco employees say they work for 60 hours and are not paid for any overtime, with a minimum salary of just 400 GEL.