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Death of Workers Stir Demonstration

By Tea Mariamidze
Monday, February 12
Another fatal incident happened at the construction site in Tbilisi, when a 26 year old worker Jarji Janjalashvili fell off the fifth floor and died allegedly due to the breach of safety norms at the construction site.

A student movement has announced a demonstration this week to protest the continued death of workers at the workplace.

The other workers employed at the site, explain that the deceased was tasked to take construction materials inside the building, noting what the worker was doing on the balcony was strange.

Janjalashvili is the third construction worker who died while performing his work this year. The Ministry of Internal Affairs has already launched an investigation into the case.

The Labor Inspection Service of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs is also studying the case.

Beka Peradze, the Head of the Labor Inspection Department, stated the company was using non-factory made fall protection equipment and barriers. He added the deceased worker was not wearing a special safety helmet.

“The final results of our investigation will be released after we speak to all the witnesses and study all circumstances in the case,” Peradze added.

The Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) believe the government is responsible for such fatal cases and added they linger adoption of already submitted Labor Safety Bill, which envisages tightening of safety norms at workplaces.

The Chair of the NGO Georgian Young Lawyers’ Association, Sulkhan Saladze, says the labor inspectors go to the construction sites only after such fatal incidents. Saladze noted all the sites must be checked regularly in order to prevent such cases in the future.

“Due to the absence of proper labor law, people die and the government has no response to this,” he stressed.

Lia Ghvinianidze, the representative of the NGO Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center – EMC, says the country has no real mechanism which would help to prevent such fatal cases.

“Unfortunately the government is incapable to make a decision and adopt such a law which would help us avoid such incidents,” she added.

The draft Law on Labor Safety was submitted to the Parliament on June 1, 2017. It was approved by MPs during the first hearing; however, on February 5, 2018, when the Parliamentary Health Committee should have had a second hearing, the government did not present the draft and asked for an additional time for internal discussions.

Last week EMC and GYLA released a joint statement and called on the parliament of Georgia to timely adopt the Labor Safety Law.

“The Parliament of Georgia should adopt a law on labor safety, in the shortest possible term that will adequately respond to the existing challenges of labor safety in the country,” the NGOs said.

On February 14, students’ movement Auditorium 115 will hold a protest rally and a march in solidarity with the deceased or injured workers in Georgia.

“From 2011 to 2017, 1209 workers died or got injured due to lack of state economic policies and labor safety. This is a war between the people and the pro-business elite state,” the movement stated.

The protesters will march from Tbilisi State University main building to the old parliament.