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New study shines light on work conditions at fast-food chains in Georgia

By Levan Abramishvili
Thursday, November 28
The Trade Union Youth Movement has published a new report on work conditions of people employed in the fast-food industry in Georgia.

The study’s target group consisted of people working in fast food chains. A total of 350 respondents were surveyed, 79% of whom were female and 21% male, with respondents ranging in age from 15 to 36 years and older. The survey was conducted in six different cities in Georgia.

20% of respondents work 5 days a week for 10-12 hours, which can be considered as a violation, since the standard working hours for full-time adult employees in Georgia are 40 hours per week, and 5 days 10-12 hours significantly exceeds the set limit. According to the study data, the average number of hours of work per week is 44 hours.

The survey of those employed at supermarkets revealed a much worse situation, with employees working around 50-60 hours a week, well above the norm.

As for remuneration, 59% of fast-food workers are paid GEL 301-500, while 27% receive GEL 501-700. The number of employees who receive GEL 701-1000 is much lower at 6% and those receiving above GEL 1000 a month are the lowest with 1 %.

It was also found that the salaries in the regions are much lower than in the city. The average salary is 500 GEL in the city and 300 GEL in the regions.

The average salary in fast food chains is GEL 494, which is a relatively high figure compared to the remuneration of the supermarket employees, where the average salary was GEL 362.

With this income, 75% of respondents cover only personal expenses, 10% manage to cover tuition fees, 13% cover all family expenses, and only 1% all three.

Arguably the most alarming finding of the study is that out of 69% of the surveyed employees who have to work overtime 46% say that the overtime work is not compensated.

It should be noted that overtime work is considered to be based on an agreement by the parties to perform the work for a period of time exceeding the set 40 hours per week. Overtime work should be compensated by an increased amount of hourly wages.

Additionally, 50% of the respondents said that in addition to their responsibilities, they conduct additional duties very often, and 30 percent said they do so, but seldom.

When asked whether they receive extra pay during the holidays, 82% of the employees stated that they do not receive any additional remuneration, with only 18% receiving compensation.

Under the law, everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favorable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment, as well as to receive equal pay for equal work.

Everyone who works has the right to just and favorable remuneration ensuring for themself and their family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

The preamble to the Constitution of the International Labor Organization, of which Georgia is a member, provides for the fight against unemployment and the guarantee of a wage that guarantees satisfactory living conditions.

The conditions that the fast-food employees have to work in, as illustrated by this study, are not in line with the above-mentioned regulations. It should be one of the Government’s priorities to ensure that the rights of its citizens are protected at the workplace. The study is concerned only with the fast-food industry, so it constitutes only a small part of the violations that occur in workplaces across the country, including lack of safety at construction sites and inadequate remuneration across nearly all fields.

The study also provides recommendations based on the findings and offers solutions to the problems arisen from the respondents.

The Trade Union Youth Movement states that it is necessary for the Government to create an effective mechanism for labor inspection, which in addition to the security checks, ensures that standardized labor conditions are strictly adhered to, and in the event of violations, companies are fined.

“One of the most effective ways of enforcing the Labor Code is to set up labor courts, where labor disputes are resolved in the shortest possible time and do not require many financial resources,” reads the study.

The Trade Union Youth Movement also stresses the importance of amending the Labor Code, which hasn’t been significantly updated since 2013. The organization also points out that minimum wage should be set and the provision on a 40-hour workweek should be strengthened in the Code. The organization also points out the importance of motivating the employees and creating trade unions.

The Trade Union Youth Movement is a union-based group of volunteers, students and young recruited workers having the aim to encourage the organizing and involvement of youngsters in the trade union activities. The study was prepared with the support of the Trade Unions of Georgia and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.