TBILISI, DFWatch – There are two articles in Georgia’s Labor Code which entitles employers to terminate a labor contract without giving any explanations or preliminary warnings.
A teacher from a village in the Gori region was fired because of her husband’s political views. The headmaster of her school openly declared in court that he fired her ‘because she doesn’t love Mikheil Saakashvili’.
The opposition Free Democrats party recently brought a number of teachers to parliament. The teachers told about how they were fired only because their family members are politically active or have different political views.
There have been similar stories told earlier this year.
In October 2011, the billionaire philanthropist Bidzina Ivanishvili published an open letter saying that he was planning to go into politics and remove Saakashvili’s regime through elections.
He established a public movement and a political coalition named Georgian Dream, and later a political party called Georgian Dream Democratic Georgia. Since then, teachers supporting this movement or party have been persecuted.
Also Georgia’s so-called Chamber of Control conducts mass interrogations of people supporting opposition forces.
People employed in state institutions or even journalists are black-mailed and threatened with being fired if not stop opposition activism or supporting other non-governmental forces.
Under Georgian legislation, it is all right to fire someone without any explanation.
The Georgian Labor Code was amended in 2006 in order to create good environment for investors and attract foreign investments. The code doesn’t give many rights to employees and doesn’t apply many obligations for employers, which in sum has led to a bad situation for employees.
At the end of 2011, Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association published a report on this issue. The report pays particular attention to article 37 and 38 which is about termination of labor contracts. (http://gyla.ge/attachments/1160_GYLA%20-%20shromis%20prezentacia%20ENG.pdf)
“Based on the essence of labor relations, an employee both personally and economically is significantly depended on an employer, which triggers the state’s authority and obligation to neutralize the threat of abusing the dependence by an employer,” the report says.
Considering this principle, article 37 and 38 of the Labor Code stipulating that an employer has the right to terminate a labor contract without reason and under any circumstances is completely unjustified, the report says.
There has been strong criticism of the law, and many have recommended that it be amended, such as the EU, the International Labor Organization and other international bodies, as well as individuals like the US Ambassador and EU representative to Georgia, but nevertheless, it still has the same face as in 2006.
Firing people without explanation is not the only problem which is not properly regulated by the code, but there are many other problems, like verbal and short term contracts, labor safety, labor holidays and significant issues for workers.
Lawyers and opposition parties trying to help those affected say that the law doesn’t offer employers appropriate means with which to defend their own rights if they take the case to court.
This leads to the unfortunate situation that employees keep putting up with terrible working conditions and do not complain, because they’re afraid of losing their job, and know that if they try to complain, it is not at all certain that it will bring them any improvement or redress.
Georgian Trade Unions recently gave parliament a list of recommendations and changes they would like to see made to the labor code, but there has not been any response yet.