EU representative reminds the Georgian government of its legal obligations
The Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia, Janos Herman, said that Georgia is liable for the creation of labor inspection.
“This liability is derived not only from the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, but also from the Charter of the International Labor Organization. We have discussed the issue many times with all the relevant parties – the government, businesses and trade unions. We support it. I see certain progress in this direction, but I also understand the impossibility of its implementation in a day, “said Janos Herman. He expressed hope that the Labor Inspectorate becomes fully functional.
The issue of the effectiveness of labor inspection once again came to light on 9 May, following the death of four workers in Tkibuli mine. The incident occurred during cable repair works. The miners fell approximately 400 meters down a shaft.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs is conducting an investigation under Article 240 of the Criminal Code, which implies ‘a violation of safety rules in mining, construction or other work’.
This is not the first occurance of citizens dying at work. NGOs, employees and trade union representatives have long been stressing that the cause behind various types of injuries is due to the employer’s negligence of safety rules.
The Labor Conditions Monitoring Department operates in the Georgian Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, though many questions have arisen questioning its effectiveness. In particular, inspection is optional, which means that companies will only be inspected if they voluntarily allow the department to do so. If violations are detected, the company will not be penalized, only notes and recommendations will confidentially be submitted.
However, labor inspection is not a cure-all. Labor safety is a multi-echelon system, and labor-inspection alone won’t be enough without the aid of the company’s security system, technical supervision inspection and other agencies, including the judicial system.
It’s an entire process. In the last four years, 260 cases under Article 240 of the Criminal Code have been investigated, with a guilty verdict passed in 60 of these cases; none of these cases saw any implementation of imprisonment sentences, irrespective of it being provided for in the article.
“Only conditional sentences and compensation of damages were applied. Families of the victims obviously opt for compensation, but that strips the court of its preventive function, since there no longer is a fear of imprisonment,” said Akaki Zoidze, chairperson of the parliamentary health committee.