The trade union movement in Georgia continues to face a range of challenges in terms of anti-labour legislation and anti-union campaigning by the government.
The unions have been under pressure for some time and a first complaint was made to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in June 2001 about the then government’s attempts to seize trade union property and intervene in union elections and activities.
There were major political changes in 2003 but harassment of trade unions continued. A new Labour Code implemented in 2006 has relatively few clauses but replaces a whole raft of employment legislation.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) currently classifies Georgia as one of three countries in Europe that are "at risk" (the other two are Belarus and Turkey) and it has a plan for number of specific campaigning actions co-ordinated by its PERC Pan-European Region.
A report by the ITUC of December 2010 provides information on the extent to which the Code contravenes ILO conventions on the right to freedom of association (87)and the right to collective bargaining (98). Further information is available from the ITUC’s annual survey of violations of trade union rights.
The main problems with the Labour Code include:
excessive requirements to form a trade union;
employers can dismiss without providing a clear reason;
there is no mechanism for conciliation;
employers can make a unilateral demand for compulsory arbitration;
there is no proper protection against discrimination on grounds of trade union membership or activity; and
there are excessive restrictions on the rights to strike.
Apart from problems with the legislation the trade unions also face difficulties in securing the right to collective bargaining and in some cases, particular in the teaching and rail sectors, are seeing attempts to undermine the system of check-off of trade union subscriptions.
The file below is a brief analysis by the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) on how the Labour Code fails to comply with the Social Charter.
The ILO NATLEX database entry for Georgia provides information on how the government is applying or failing to apply the ILO Conventions it has signed up to as well as details of complaints against it.
The GTUC has a website with some information in English, including updates on trade union rights issues.
EPSU letter of protest to prime minister
The Georgian government’s tough line on trade union rights is making it difficult for EPSU affiliates in the health sector. The government is pushing through privatisation while failing to meet its commitment to build new hospitals. It is also refusing to engage in proper social dialogue with the trade unions. Affiliates meeting in EPSU’s North East Constituency in April signed a letter of protest (below in English and Russian) to the Georgian prime minister urging him to get the health minister to open talks with the health unions over the situation in the sector.
EPSU has three affiliates in Georgia: