Public Defender Launches Information Campaign on Labour Safety

Protection of labour rights and advocacy of the provision of safe environment are still one of the main directions of the Public Defender's Office. For this purpose, the Public Defender of Georgia launched a special campaign, which will once again raise the issues related to the labour policy, existed needs and necessary changes. A workshop will be held for journalists, various types of printed informational material will be prepared, meetings will be held with employees and other activities will be implemented during the campaign. The Public Defender is also participating in the group working on legislative amendments.

At present, there is no effective body to supervise labour safety in the country. The Inspection Department of the Ministry of Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia has the right to conduct monitoring only in case of employees' consent, while its recommendation is not mandatory. The Technical and Construction Supervision Agency under the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia, as well as the Supervision Municipal Service of Tbilisi City Hall, have limited powers.

As a result, the universal way of responding to the fatal cases in the workplace is to launch and carry out a criminal investigation. Analysis of the statistical data requested by the Public Defender leaves an impression that investigations are delayed in many cases and are not oriented to real consequences, which refers to the ineffective response of the investigating agency to the fatal cases in the workplace. In particular, according to the information of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia:

In 2015, only 15 out of 100 investigations into the fatal cases in the workplace went to the court, criminal prosecution was launched in 26 cases, investigation was suspended in 44 cases, 41 cases are still under investigation.

In 2016, 11 out of 131 criminal cases went to the court, criminal prosecution was launched in 17 cases, investigation was suspended in 44 cases, investigation is still pending into 76 cases.

In 2017, only 4 out of 46 cases went to the court, criminal prosecution was launched in 7 cases, investigation was suspended in 11 cases, investigation is pending in 31 cases.

Due to all the above-mentioned, it still remains an unconditional necessity to create an effective mechanism for the inspection of labour conditions, which would be able to conduct inspection without hampering employers, make decisions execution of which would be mandatory and use appropriate sanctions. It is noteworthy that this commitment has been undertaken by Georgia under the Association Agreement with the European Union.

The Public Defender of Georgia welcomes the consideration of the draft law on labour safety by the Parliament of Georgia, which has already been adopted in the first reading. The Public Defender addressed the Parliament with a proposal concerning the above-mentioned draft law and submitted his own remarks. In addition, the Public Defender's representative is involved in the Parliament’s working group.

We consider that the issues of the area of application of the law and admission of representatives of the controlling body to the enterprises are problematic in the draft law. It is of paramount importance the law to apply not only to heavy, harmful and hazardous jobs, but all employees to be provided with secure working environment. The controlling body should have the ability to check any enterprise without any prior consent or court order. If the mentioned remarks are not taken into consideration, the law cannot guarantee full protection of labour safety in the country.

We hope that the steps taken by the Government and the amendments to the legislation will positively impact the situation of labour rights, including labour safety and health and life of workers in the country.

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