Countries at Risk : Georgia

For many years, the ITUC’s affiliate in Georgia, the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC), has faced sustained and serious acts of repression by the Government of President Saakashvili. Such anti-union acts are part of the government’s strategy to attract foreign investment. Indeed, it has touted in financial magazines and newspapers that the country has low taxes, minimal regulations and “unprecedented freedom to do business”.

In 2006, the Georgian government gutted the Labour Code, in direct contravention of ILO Convention No. 87 on Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise and ILO Convention No. 98 on the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining – both of which Georgia has ratified. Indeed, the Labour Code establishes near complete freedom to fire a worker for no reason whatsoever, denies workers effective protection against discrimination, including on the basis of trade union membership, undermines collective bargaining and eliminated labour inspection, among others. In several cases, trade union activists have been dismissed, and the courts, despite protections in the trade union act against anti-union discrimination, have upheld the sackings on the basis of the 2006 Labour Law. Together, these changes led to a severe imbalance of power in the employment relationship, to the extreme detriment of workers. As a result, the GTUC has lost roughly 100,000 members in recent years.

The PERC is supporting targeted priority campaign actions of its affiliates in case of violation of trade union or workers’ rights by governments or employers or mounting political and public pressure to change national policies or legislation. These campaigns are targeted at specific situations and time periods where international solidarity can make a difference.