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Trade Unions open the season of protests2009-02-06 16:42
The square in front of Georgia's Parliament building has not been missing protest actions for long. Opposition and politologists promised to unleash the wave of protests in spring. However the season of protests started already in the last month of winter. On February 3 the Association of Trade Unions of the country brought their supporters to the square.
The Association leaders called on the people's representatives to introduce amendments in the labor legislation.
Right in the square the activists invited Georgian citizens to document their support. Any person could come up to a desk at the staircase leading to the Parliamentary Olympus to affix a signature on the address.
The participants held back from any political statements. However according to Georgian internet agencies with reference to Versia newspaper the Chairman of the Association Irakli Ptriashvili stated: the trade unions will pass over to political demands unless they are heard and supported by the supreme legislative authority. He noted that "the solidarity books" had been endorsed by over 80 thousand people. He also specified the essence of the demands.
"Four days ago we presented our proposals on amendments to the labor legislation to the parliament. Considering that according to the government the state budget has increased by 250 mln there is a possibility to find 115 mln for establishing unemployment benefits so that our citizens had at least minimum source for living", - nregion quotes.
As the Georgian media report the demands of Association of Trade Unions include introduction of unemployment benefits, increase in monetary compensation to redundant employees, increase in maternity benefit and implementation of measures (including insurance) making health care available to all. By the way this year all prior health benefits for socially unprotected categories of citizens and those who need these benefits were cancelled.
The ending of the trade unions' protest action was extraordinary: by knocking spoons against iron bowls and screaming "We are hungry!"
If Resonansi newspaper can be trusted "the parliament considered the suggestions of the trade unions and redirected them to relevant committees for further discussion". But it is unknown when it comes to (if it comes to) amending the legislation. The initiators are eating the alarm because the situation in the country is very grave - there is no time to waste.
New Labor Code was adopted by the Georgian parliament in May 2006 neglecting multiple protests of the trade unions, non-governmental and international organizations including ITUC and ILO (International Trade Union Confederation and International Labor Organization) dissatisfied with a lot of the provisions.
A year ago by the ILO's initiative the European Commission called on Georgia to reconsider the provisions of the Labor Code that violate fundamental standards: the right of the employees to associations and their right to hold collective negotiations threatening to exclude the country from the system of trade preferences.
By the way not long ago the sanctions above were applied to Belarus for a similar reason. Georgia's economy might suffer more as the share of EU countries in its trade balance is significantly higher.
And more. The term of the ultimatum declared by the European Commission expires this year.
Recently the candidate for Prime Minister Nika Gilauri stated: "the social aspects of Georgia's governmental program are subject to a number of modifications".