Georgian bookstores network sues employees over exploitation claims
A major Georgian network of bookstores, Biblus, filed a lawsuit on February 17 against some of its employees, demanding that they retract their widely publicized claim that they had been exploited at work.
Six Biblus employees released a video on February 9, in which they said they had to work ten hours a day for a petty 300 GEL (around 113 USD) as a monthly salary.
“We, the staff, have been forced to multitask, working as sales consultants, cashiers, cleaners, porters and stock clerks at one and the same time,” one of them said in the video.
Biblus management dismissed the claims as false. Its staff work a regular eight hours a day and are entitled to bonuses, they said.
Soon after the video went viral, Biblus fired two of its six authors, citing damage to its reputation. The dismissals prompted students from a youth organization “Auditorium 115” to stage a protest in one of the Biblus bookstores. The police was brought in to make them leave.
The video caused a stir among the Georgian public, as did, earlier, a similar message spread by staff of a retail network Fresco who, too, had complained about difficult working conditions and low pay.
The government’s labour inspection has never responded to the incidents. “It is not your social network response service,” minister of healthcare and social security David Sergeyenko said, defending the inspection’s silence. He advised that anyone who felt discontented should take their complaints to court.