Amendments to the labor code, proposed by the Justice Ministry and passed with its first reading by the Parliament last month, is “Rosa Luxemburg’s dream labor code” and “a nightmare for business,” Education Minister and Deputy PM, Giorgi Margvelashvili, said.
Echoing concerns voiced by the business lobby groups in April before the bill was passed by the Parliament with its first reading, Margvelashvili said that the Justice Ministry-proposed amendments would fail to guarantee “balanced” employee-employer relations and would encourage “shadow employment.”
Margvelashvili, who became vice-premier after PM Ivanishvili demoted defense minister Irakli Alasania, made the remarks while speaking at a lecture-style meeting with a group of students at the Georgian Institute of Public Affairs (GIPA), where he was a rector before becoming education minister in late October 2012.
At the meeting Margvelashvili was speaking broadly about plans and challenges in the education sector and his labor code remarks were actually off-topic comments made when he was asked a question from an audience about a scuffle between May Day student demonstrators and police on May 1 in downtown Tbilisi.
Responding to this question, Margvelashvili said that he did not understand why this protest was held at all. He said that if the demonstrators did not like the existing labor code, they should know that amendments had already been initiated in the Parliament.
“It’s Rosa Luxemburg’s dream labor code,” Margvelashvili said referring to the draft amendments.
“That’s a nightmare for the business,” he said and when asked from the audience whether “it’s good or bad”, Margvelashvili responds: “Of course it’s not good, it’s very problematic, especially in the country which needs to develop business and where the authorities have to carry out reforms.”
“It was completely wrong to initiate such [amendments to the] labor code,” he said and expressed hope that the draft would be revised before it’s passed with its second and third reading by the Parliament.
“These amendments, which have been initiated and which I was really against of, was written conceptually under dictating from the trade unions, which are one of the stakeholders in this process and if you fail to balance trade unions by demands of business and employers… there will be a huge imbalance,” Margvelashvili said, adding that such imbalance would fail to guarantee proper employee-employer relations and would encourage “shadow employment” and “create problems” in tackling unemployment.
Responding to Margvelashvili’s remarks, Deputy Justice Minister, Alexander Baramidze, who was actively involved in drafting of the bill, said on May 3: “This is Georgian Dream voters’ dream labor code, which is fully in line with those promises, which the Georgian Dream gave to voters during its pre-election campaign.”
“This is the labor code, which guarantees balance in rights and obligations of employers and employees and it is in full compliance with Georgia’s international commitments,” Baramidze added.