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Georgians become cheap work force2010-07-23 18:04
Georgian trade unions have come up with two angry speeches: against greedy investors and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs barking up the wrong tree in both cases. Whose fault is it that Turkish owners of a factory in Ajaria exploit Georgian workers in best traditions of slaveholders? Why is Andrey Nesterenko to blame for mentioning criticism of the Georgian Labor Code at an international conference? The problem is excessive loyalty of trade unions who toady to the government's radical liberalism.
Georgian reformers led by Mikheil Saakashvili disheartened trade unions long ago convincing defenders of the workers' rights not to rush their demands until economy rises to its feet.
The result of this all is evident in Khelvachaur factory in Ajaria. As Irakli Petriashvili, head of the Association of trade Unions told Kommersant radio people suffer inhuman working conditions, and a lawsuit to be filed in the Court of Strasbourg is now under preparation against the Turkish owner.
In 2007 Mikheil Saakashvili attended a pompous opening ceremony of the factory reconstructed by the investor for GEL 500 thousand. 250 workers were promised GEL 250-300 salaries.
In May the president of the country who visited Khelvachaur bought some things for his wife finding no fault with the factory. The workers were well prepared for the meeting with the head of the state.
Saakashvili was pleased to see foreign investments working. However, local residents are full of gloomy thoughts: Khelvachaur clothes factory, like Makhinjaur factory is owned by the Turks. All the produce has Turkish brands. The land is also their property. Only cheap working force is Georgian here.
Not only Ajarians are in this half-slavish state. This spring miners of Zastafon factory of ferroalloys sold to Ukrainian investors protested against humiliatingly low salaries and unbearable working conditions.
Usually, workers don't receive considerable support of the trade unions in their struggle with the employers. Petriashvili's organization is afraid to conflict with the government preferring an inefficient method of talks as part of trilateral commission together with representatives of employers and authorities.
It's been two years since the Association of Georgian Trade Unions has been pretending to lobby a new, fairer Labor Code urged by the Europeans calling to eliminate the defects therein. Last year they threatened that the Caucasian country would be excluded from the free trade zone because of the discriminatory labor code.