SOCIEUX+ participates in EU-Georgia Dialogues on social issues

SOCIEUX+ participated in the two-day EU-Georgia Dialogues conducted in Tbilisi on 19-20 September 2018, with a special session organized by DG Employment (European Commission) to foster cooperation between the two countries under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement. The Dialogues provided the opportunity for an active exchange of views and practices that would act as guidance for Georgia to re-develop its labour inspectorate and construct a system for effective enforcement of labour rights and standards for better working conditions.

Georgia’s Labour Inspectorate was abolished in 2006. The country is gradually re-establishing labour inspections, but an effective enforcement and governance system is not yet in place. In the EU-Georgia Association Agreement, Georgia committed to implement internationally recognized core labour standards, including effective labour inspection, by September 2019. After taking initial steps towards a comprehensive labour inspection system in 2015 and 2018, the Georgian government still has much to do to fulfil its international obligations in social protection, labour and employment policies. As Deputy Minister of Internally Displaced Persons, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia Mrs Tamila Barkalaia said, “Georgia tried the deregulation of the labour market. That doesn’t work…. We need to identify a way to enhance both workers’ rights and employers’ interests, and identify the way to succeed”.

In addition to free trade, Georgia’s economic association with the EU aims to establish a level playing field in terms of working conditions and labour standards in the country. Improved working conditions and labour relations will contribute to Georgia’s further growth and development. There is also a strong business case for improving labour standards, working conditions, and labour market institutions, as these are assets for increasing productivity, enhancing skills, adding to the global value chain, and contributing to sustainable development.

Through the different presentations at the Dialogues, the following issues were addressed:

  • Labour standards and working conditions in Georgia;
  • The importance of good labour standards and working conditions for sustainable business;
  • Protecting labour rights, preventing labour risks, and enforcing laws: Labour inspectorates in the EU;
  • Supervising working relations and conditions;
  • Addressing informal work;
  • OHS and occupational risk, prevention, and supervision;
  • How to move forward? An EU-Georgia roadmap for dialogue and action;
  • Good labour standards and working conditions for sustainable business.

The main questions posited during the presentations were, “How to forge a new “win-win” relationship between government, employers, and workers?” and, “Is tripartite governance the best way to implement and enforce economic and social growth via dialogue?” In addition, EU and Georgian business leaders were given the opportunity to exchange experiences and ideas.
Thierry Fiquet, SOCIEUX+ Key Expert on Labour and Employment, made a presentation on how SOCIEUX+ can assist Georgian partners to operationalize government’s commitments and enforce its social policies for socioeconomic growth.

The seminar took place with about 60 participants from the Georgian government, labour inspectorate, social partners, and other national stakeholders, including the Minister of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia, and representatives from the European Commission, EU Member State labour inspectorates, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the European Business Agency, the EU-OSH Agency, selected partner countries (Latvia, Spain, Hungary, Montenegro, Poland, Finland, Norway, Italy, and Ukraine), and international organisations including SOCIEUX+.

Thierry Fiquet, SOCIEUX+ Key Expert on Labour and Employment.