Georgia: The end of Freedom of Association

Trade union office was closed and five trade unionists have been fired by the management of the port of Poti on October 25 (...)

Brussels, 23 November 2007: Trade union office was closed and five trade unionists have been fired by the management of the port of Poti on October 25 after the union presented its demands for mechanisms of the workers’ rights protection in the course of restructure process the port is engaged in. According to the PERC and the ITUC, this clearly illustrates the failure of Georgian law – which allows managers to sack workers without any explanation - to comply with country’s international obligations.

The dismissal of union members or officials for carrying out legitimate trade union activities constitutes a serious violation of the right of freedom of association and collective bargaining as enshrined in ILO Conventions 87 and 98.
On numerous occasions the ITUC has been drawing the attention of the Georgian authorities to the deficiencies in the new labour code which now have resulted in violations of international law de-facto. The ITUC fully supports the actions taken by its affiliate – the Georgian Trade Union Confederation – to stop the harrassment of trade union activists in the Poti port.

In a letter sent to the authorities the ITUC urged the government to intervene in order to ensure that Georgia respects its international obligations, that the dismissed trade union officials are reinstated to their positions, that their sufferings are remedied, and that the companies are made well aware that anti-union harassment is unacceptable. The ITUC also call on President Saakashvili to initiate the review of the Labour Code as a matter of state priority to ensure that intimidation and harassment of trade union members will cease once and for all.
“It is unacceptable that workers are deprived of the right to organise and defend themselves and that the labour code of the country favours violations of freedom of association, “ said Guy Ryder, ITUC General Secretary. “ Immediate measures need to be taken in order to reinstate the five trade unionists and to ensure that fundamental rights of all workers are protected, in law and in practice” he added.

The ITUC represents 168 million workers in 153 countries and territories and has 304 national affiliates.

For more information, please contact the ITUC Press Department on +32 2 224 0204 or +32 476 621 018.