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Gov’t to Double Sanctions for Violating Labor Safety Norms

By Tea Mariamidze
Friday, February 16
Georgian government intends to double sanctions for violation of labor safety norms at workplaces. The information was released by the Deputy Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, Tamila Barkalaia on Thursday.

Barkalaia says the new draft law on Labor Safety, which has already been submitted to the parliament, envisages stricter sanctions for the breach of safety norms.

“The mechanism of sanctions will be tied to VAT quantity. We were also criticized that the sanctions for safety norms violations were low. I can tell you that the amount of fines has doubled compared to the previous version of the draft, "said the Deputy Minister.

She also said the changes will affect the work of the Labor Inspector, who, according to the previous version, needed court order to carry out monitoring of workplaces.

“Inspections will be carried out without the court orders. Planned inspections, as well as repeated monitoring will not need the court permission either,” Barkalaia said.

The draft Law on Labor Safety was submitted to Parliament on June 1, 2017 and approved by MPs at the first hearing. On February 5, 2018, when the Parliamentary had to discuss the draft with a second hearing, the government asked for additional time, adding that they needed to discuss the issue further.

Deputy Minister added internal discussions over the issue were held in order to take remarks from the civil sector into account and better the draft law.

Several days ago, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) based in Georgia, sent an open letter to the European Commissioners, to share their concerns regarding the discussions on Labor Safety draft law in Georgian parliament.

The NGOs stated that the labor policy in Georgia is poor and results in “unstable, low-paid and unprotected work.”

The letter also reads that at workplaces, where the risk of worker’s injury and death is especially high, fatal industrial accidents happen every week.

“As a result, 1046 people died or were injured at the workplace during 2011-2016 in Georgia. This number is increasing every year,” the organizations stressed.

The letter reads the draft law determines the minimal amount of fines as a sanction, which are not in line with draft law aim - to make employers rectify the infringements instead of paying fines.

It also stressed that the bill foresees the unconditional access of the labor safety supervisory body to the workplace only as an exception, adding Labor Inspector needs court order to carry out monitoring which requires additional time and “decreases the chance of immediate and effective response from the supervisory body.”

Moreover, on February 14, Tbilisi State University students’ movement Auditorium 115 held a protest rally in solidarity with Georgian workers who were injured or died due to a lack of safety norms in the country.

The students said in 2011-2017, 1209 workers died or got injured at workplaces.

"The oppression of the people in this country should end and the government is obliged to carry out people-oriented policies,” Lasha Meskhi, a TSU student stated.

Another protester, Irakli Kupradze stressed the draft law is incomplete and does not eliminate existing risks of labor safety.

“This farce needs to be over and the real legislation must be offered by the government," Kupradze said.