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Georgia – Trade unions burn labour code outside Parliament

02 March 2012

Trade unions in Georgia protested outside Parliament this week burning the national labour code, as The Messenger reports.

Union deputy chair, Eter Matureli, likened the Georgian labour code to a “slavery code” which does not consider the rights of workers. The unions reacted to a proposal of the European Trade Union Confederation, which declared a European Day of Action.

This comes after last month’s protests when trade unions and various non-governmental organisations were already pushing the Government to reform its labour laws, claiming that current regulations do not provide sufficient protection for workers. Protestors were then demonstrating against the current labour code that was passed in 2006 and, for instance, allows employers to fire staff for joining a union.

The labour regulations have been heavily criticised by international groups in the past and European Union officials have urged the country to reform its labour code

Chairman of the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, Irakli Petriashvili, said in an interview earlier this year that “Workers are effectively in a state of bondage and powerlessness. Employers have the right to sack employees at any time without prior warning or explanation, including for discriminatory reasons such as union membership. There have been many cases of that. Because employers aren’t required to give a reason for dismissal, workers cannot demonstrate in court that they are victims of discrimination.”

Government officials meanwhile denounce the criticism, saying current labour legislations cover the minimum standard laid out by international law. However, many experts argue that the labour market will have to be reformed if Georgia is to sign a free trade deal with the EU.

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