Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Together with the world trade union movement, the General Confederation of Trade Unions (GCTU) expresses its serious concern over the situation in Georgia where the state authorities and employers supported by the Government keep harassing the trade unions and grossly violating workers’ fundamental rights recognized around the world.

The neoliberal innovations of the present-day Georgian authorities, who describe themselves as champions of democracy, have, in essence, boiled down to a level where not a single sector of the economy is functioning in a normal way. The policy of deregulation has created mass unemployment that caused the outflow of workforce from the country.

Against the background of economic difficulties, the authorities have launched an offensive on the rights of workers. The new Labour Code, adopted amidst strong protests of trade unions, conflicts with the eight fundamental ILO conventions ratified by Georgia, and is considered to be one of the most reactionary in the world. In line with this Code, the Labour Inspectorate has been dismissed, the employer has received the right to sack workers on a whim, and the unemployment benefit has virtually been abolished. Almost a quarter of the population live below the poverty line.

An undeclared war has been unleashed against the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, a GCTU affiliate. Discrimination against trade unions, interference in their internal affairs, and attempts to undermine their financial and material status have acquired a permanent nature. The Government and business, with the connivance of the courts, have actually rejected social dialogue. Trade union demands or proposals are either neglected or opposed adamantly, which adds to social tensions in the country. A dramatic manifestation of such tensions, which has had global repercussions, is provided by the recent developments around the strike of workers at the "Hercules" Metallurgical Plant in Kutaisi, unceremoniously terminated by illegal police intervention.

Today, the Georgian trade unions need wide international trade union solidarity and help from the world trade union centres, the International Labour Organisation, the EU institutions, etc. The GCTU shares the position taken by the International Trade Union Confederation and the European Trade Union Confederation who said they would seek withdrawal of trade preferences from Georgia, as long as it continues to violate the rights of trade unions.

We call, once again, on our member organisations to render friendly support and solidarity to the Georgian trade unions in their struggle to protect their rights and the legitimate interests of workers in their country.

General Confederation Of Trade Unions

Moscow, 29 November 2011