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Georgia's growing union movement

25 June, 2015Georgia’s vibrant labour movement has grown in strength since 2012, and the country is a priority for IndustriALL Global Union when it comes trade union organizing. 

The final workshop in a series of five within a union organizing project supported by IndustriALL Norwegian affiliate Industri Energi (IE) was held in Kobuleti on 31 May - 2 June 2015.

After a new labour code was adopted in 2006, the unions in Georgia experienced pressure from both employers and the state for several years. According to experts, the labour code is one of the worst examples of labor codes currently existing in the world. As a result of heavy business lobbying, Georgia has a tiny brochure of about 60 pages with no mention of trade unions instead of a detailed labour law corresponding to international norms and ILO standards.

The labour code has had serious consequences for workers in the country; labour inspections have been abolished, unions are under constant pressure, and as a consequence membership is declining.

It took more than seven years of union struggle to make the state authorities hear the voice of the unions, start a dialogue and make some changes to the labor legislation.

Tamaz Dolaberidze, president of IndustriALL affiliate Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia (TUMMCIWG), said:

As the state no longer sides with the employer during collective labor disputes and is more open to social dialogue, we now have greater possibilities to develop our trade unions."

Trade union leaders and activists of the Trade Union of Metallurgy, Mining and Chemical Industry Workers of Georgia participated in the workshop and listened to Ole-Kristian Paulsen, international advisor at IE. He told participants about the activities of Norwegian unions and the subsequent recognition of the need of equal dialogue between the social partners which led to the country's prosperity.

On hearing about the efforts Georgian employers take to suppress unions at their enterprises, Ole-Kristian Paulsen said:

It is absolutely counterproductive, as eventually all the people will be organized in the union. If the employer would have taken these efforts to develop the production, the enterprise performance would have been much higher, and it would provide higher profits to business and higher wages to the employees".

Eduard Vokhmin, trade union trainer, facilitated the practical training. Participants practiced various organizing methods used in certain situations at their enterprises.