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Who will gain more from the new labor code?

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, June 13
Until the adoption of a final version of the labor code, the Head of Parliament’s Healthcare and Social Issues Committee, Dimitri Khundadze stated that the different sides managed to agree on “questionable articles” and the draft is now ready for the third reading. However, this view is not shared by the trade unions. According to them, they were “blocked” from participating in the discussion process and the government was influenced by the business sector and employers. The trade unions have threatened to hold large-scaled strikes if the initial version of the draft is not passed.

After the first reading of the draft at parliament, the trade unions emphasized that the draft protected the rights of employees and expressed their support to the changes. However, the second reading of the draft removed nine articles. According to representatives of the Justice Ministry, those articles were questionable and required further consultations.

The so called "questionable articles" dealt with the creation of trade unions, overtime working conditions, full term and open-ended contracts, and those who have to do hazardous work.

“The working week is specified as 40 hours. However, in special circumstances, we will have to work 48 hours per week. Thus, the payment for overtime will start, in some cases after 40 working hours and in others after 48 hours…,” Khundadaze stated, adding that more than 50% of employees in every enterprise will form trade unions and take part in the collectivisation process.

“If individuals have more than 5 years work experience in a particular job, they will be able to sign open-ended contacts one year after the law comes in effect. If work experience is less than 5 years, they will be able to sign open-ended contracts 2 years after the law is enacted”, Khundadze stressed.

Deputy Justice Minister, Aleksandre Baramidze, stated that the interests of both employers and employees were taken into account. He also stated that due to the specifics of certain jobs, the demands of the employers were taken into consideration and 48 hours was deemed the appropriate amount of time for the working week in those specific cases.

The trade unions state that the government changed its initial position and favored the employers’ rights more than the employees.

The Head of the Trade Unions, Irakli Petriashvili stated that establishing a 40 hour working week for some employees and 48 for others is discrimination. He also claims that this will lead to demonstrations and strikes.

Petriashvili stressed that the 50+1 model for the creation of trade unions is also unacceptable.

“There is a threat that the leadership of big companies will create the trade unions and force the employees to participate in them. The fact will hinder the creation of independent trade unions,” Petriashvili stated.

Petriashvili stressed that legislation in foreign countries states that those who have to do hazardous work must be allocated more than 20 days additional paid vacation. “In the initial version of the draft, we agreed on an additional 15 days paid vacation for this category. However, this period was suddenly reduced to 5 days…” Petriashvili stated.

Despite the fact certain demands of the employers were taken into account, Member of Parliament, Kakhaber Okriashvili, who defended the employers’ rights during the consultations, stated that he had to accept “bad, in a choice between bad and worse.”

The parliamentary minority stated that the new labor code will create serious problems and frighten business representatives with the result that job opportunities will be reduced in Georgia.

The parliamentary majority has responded to this, stating that the previous labor code was obviously discriminative towards the employees and after the adoption of the new code, the situation will be balanced.

The third and final reading of the labor code is planned to take place in the next few days.