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Employees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster Have Real Fear that They Will Lose Jobs


Natia Gogolashvili

On February 17, members of the United Trade Unions and Trade Union of Georgian Media met representatives of the nongovernmental organizations. The parties discussed ongoing developments in the Georgian Public Broadcaster and planned future activities.

Several months after the 2016 Parliamentary Elections, the former director general of the GPB Giorgi Baratashvili resigned and Vasil Maglaferidze replaced him. The new management decided to carry out reforms and reorganization in the TV-Company. The chairperson of the Trade Union of Georgian Media Lasha Meskhi said the people working in the GPB have real fear that they will lose jobs soon. He believes the only real way to overcome the current crisis is to start dialogue and discuss problems. 

“We continue meetings with the civil society representatives and with the people who worry about the ongoing processes in the GPB. We actively cooperate with different NGOs. It is not our first meeting. We discussed the issues which concern the situation in the GPB: persecution of the employees because of their membership in the Trade Unions and their critical opinions. It is important for us that the civil society was informed what is going in the GPB in reality. This television belongs to any tax-payer citizen of Georgia and the TV-Company should be accountable before the people. Today, the people working in the GPB have real fear to lose jobs. The employees are subjects of our main concern. Consequently, we will do our utmost within our competence and possibilities to defend the rights of the GPB’s employees. We think the only real way to resolve these problems is dialogue. Without the dialogue it is difficult to overcome this crisis,” Lasha Meskhi said.

Deputy Chairman of the United Trade Unions of Georgia Gocha Aleksandria said after the new management came in office in the GPB, the processes developed in wrong direction. He believes, one of the main mistakes of the new management was negligence of the opinion of the GPB staff members.
“After the new management came in office in the GPB, the processes developed in wrong and unlawful manner; many aspects were not taken into account: neither current conditions of the GPB nor the opinion of the staff members. The plan presented by the administration was unexpected. It resulted into adequate response from the side of the employees. The society was also very critical about it. People saw how group of protesters broke into the GPB office. There was huge protest because society was shocked. I think it was normal reaction. As a result of this protest we saw that versions of the planned reforms were changed though it could not clarify the ongoing developments in the GBP. The main issue is that administration does not have a dialogue with the staff members, with journalists and technical personnel. We have an impression that everybody speaks about everything; everybody has his opinion except the participation of the employees. Their opinion is neglected and they are waiting for the verdict from the Board of Trustees. Majority of the employees requests to take their opinion into account. They should know what they expect tomorrow,” Gocha Aleksandria said.

He said if the GPB’s management fires the employees, employment of these people will be a problem considering current high unemployment rate in the country. Representatives of the Trade Union of Georgian Media said the management offers one-month labor contracts to one part of the staff members and they do not know whether the contracts will be prolonged in future. 

“Today we heard the problems in the GPB. Current developments in the GPB may result into many ceased labor contracts because of reorganization or other processes. We will try to monitor the ongoing process in the cooperation regime and take concrete steps to identify the problems in the process,” Lela Gvishiani, representative of the Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center said.
“We believe the strong Trade Union of Media is one of the milestones to ensure freedom of media in the country. If the GPB employees will stand together and set up an organization to voice their demands, I think the process will be less painful. Consequently, existence of the Trade Union of Media is particularly important because they know the ongoing processes in the GPB the best of all. We expect their notifications which will ensure that the rights of the GPB employees are respected,” member of the Auditoria 115 Levan Lortkipanidze said.

The civil society actively supports the rights of the employees but as it was clarified during the meeting, they need concrete visions from the representatives of the Trade Union of Georgia Media - how they see their and current employees’ cooperation with the GPB administration. The parties agreed that they will notify the nongovernmental organizations about their plans in near future.

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