Deficiencies of the current Labor Safety Reform in Georgia

30 Mar, 2018
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This policy brief covers a period of January-November, 2017
Authors: Lina Ghvinianidze on behalf of Human Rights Education and Monitoring Centre (EMC). Peer Review: Dr. Tobias Schumacher.

Ensuring a safe environment in the workplace has been a major challenge in Georgia for years. The severity of labor rights violations is reflected by a large number of workers’ strikes and protests in recent years during which calls for the realization of a safe working environment were repeatedly voiced. Moreover, according to official data, in the period between 2011 and 2016, 776 employees were injured and 270 died at their respective workplace as a result of work-related accidents. In response to these problems, the Labour Conditions Inspection Department was created in 2015. As a matter of fact, the mandate of the Labour Conditions Inspection Department is limited to matters concerning labor safety.

The department can only conduct an inspection with prior approval of the employer, and the authority of the department is limited to issuing non-binding recommendations, which is in contradiction with the minimum standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO). As current statistical data shows, after the creation of the Labor Inspection Department, the rates of workers’ mortality as well as the number of people injured at the workplace as a result of work-related accidents, have remained significantly high and has in fact even increased. Establishing an effective and accurate mechanism of labor inspection, equipped with appropriate levers and compatible with the standards of the International Labour Organization (ILO), was one of the obligations the Georgian authorities committed themselves to in the framework of the 2014-2016 EU-Georgia Association Agenda and it is defined in chapter 13 and 14 of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. To date, these obligations have not yet been met.

Moreover, transforming the current Labour Conditions Inspection Department into an effective mechanism represents one of the goals stipulated in the 2017 Draft National Action Plan for the implementation of the Agenda of the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. In spite of the obligations undertaken by the government on both national and international levels, The government of Georgia has significantly delayed this process. To justify this inaction, it points to the deterioration of investments and the process of rapid economic development.

Thus, the economic team of the Georgian government, which includes high officials of The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development and The Economic Council has more influence on the development of the labour policy than the Ministry of Labour itself. Moreover, the reforms implemented in the sphere of labour safety are vehemently opposed by business associations.