The European Union is “fully aware” of the situation in terms of the labor safety in Georgia and is “concerned by the lack of progress in establishing an effective system for the supervision of working conditions, the employment relationship and the enforcement of labor rights and standards,” Johannes Hahn, the EU Commissioner for European Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, wrote in his letter on April 11.
The letter, signed by Commissioner Hahn also on behalf of Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström, and Employment and Social Affairs Commissioner Marianne Thyssen, was submitted in response to the February 13 appeal of six Georgian civil society organizations (CSOs), in which they laid out their concerns over the then ongoing parliamentary deliberations on labor safety regulations.
The CSOs wrote then that the draft law, introduced by the Government in June 2017 and adopted by the Parliament on March 7, was “weak” in terms of its enforcement component, and failed to demonstrate “the will of the government to effectively protect employees at the workplace.”
Commissioner Johannes Hahn replied in the letter that the current practice in Georgia as well as the law on Labor Safety were not “fully in line with Georgia’s commitment to approximate its legislation to EU health and safety at work and labor protection, which generally provides for sanctions to be effective, proportionate and dissuasive and to have a real and deterrent effect on employers.”
“The lack of an effective system for enforcement of labor rights and standards could result in a breach of commitments taken by Georgia under its Association Agreement (including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area) with the European Union to effectively implement the core labor standards embodied in the ILO fundamental conventions in Georgian law and practice,” reads the letter.
The Enlargement Commissioner also pledged to follow the developments “closely,” and “to continue to insist that the scope of the legislation provides for effective protection for all workers with supervision and sanctioning powers, in line with international standards, along with the establishment of a proper labor inspection system.”