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Labour ministry to ‘inspect for rights violations’ in Georgia

12 January 2018
Workers of Chiatura manganese mines, archive. (Mari Nikuradze /OC Media)

The Labour Inspection Department under Georgia’s Ministry of Health and Labour will now be able to examine state institutions and private companies for violations of labour rights. However, the department is still unable to inspect workplaces without prior consent from employers, and recommendations issued following an inspection are not legally binding.

Before 1 January, the department could only check health and safety conditions.

The changes came in the 2018 State Programme for Labor Conditions Inspection, which was adopted on 29 December 2017 and enforced three days later. The programme has an annual budget of 910,000 ($355,000).

The ministry will have to inform a company or institution five days prior to when they wish to make an inspection, and companies have the right to refuse entry to inspectors. If any violations are detected, the ministry cannot take punitive measures, such as imposing fines.

The legislation has faced criticism for these limitations, with a number of labour rights groups claiming that the current mechanism does not effectively prevent occupational accidents, and fails to ensure a safe working environment.

[Read on OC Media: Fatal workplace accidents show ‘need for labour inspection reform’]

Labour rights in the spotlight

On 10 January, a construction worker died on a constructions site, supposedly after suffering a heart attack, Liberali reported.

According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, 58 people died and 85 were seriously injured as a result of occupational accidents in 2016. Officials statistics for 2017 have yet to be published, but a number of high profile accidents have attracted media attention to labour rights in the country.

After four miners died in May 2017 in a lift collapse in a coal shaft in Tkibuli, central Georgia, the Minister of Labour Davit Sergeenko presented a draft law to the government.

The draft would reform the Labour Inspection Department, granting them the right to inspect workplaces without prior consent of employers, in contrast to the current legislation. The draft law has passed it’s first hearing in parliament, but dates for the second final readings have yet to be set.

[Read on OC Media: Opinion | Georgia’s Labour reforms do little to fix the country’s deadly workplaces]