11:54, Sunday, 16.12.2018
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The Parliament passed the law on labor safety


Natia Gogolashvili

“Davit Dzabiradze, 55, an employee of the repair guild shop at the Zestaponi Ferroalloy Factory, fell off the 40 meters high roof of the fourth guild shop when repairing the ceiling and died on the place,” Trade Union of Metallurgists, Miners and Chemists reported several weeks ago. A few days ago, in Senaki, concrete blocks machine killed a person on the place. According to the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation, in 2017, 41 persons died and 66 were gravely injured on the working places.

The Parliament, through third hearing, passed the law on labor safety. The law establishes control over dangerous, hard, poisonous and risky working places. The law was drafted by the Ministry of Healthcare. According to the amendments, the authority of the labor inspecting will increase.

Representative of the Labor Inspection Beka Feradze said the list of the companies will be created, who will become targets of the law. First of all, about 42 thousand companies will be selected. They are the companies, where we have the most record of injuries and deaths.

“The law will define new rules in the industrial relations, which will rely on the balanced and constructive cooperation between the parties. The law will assign the mandate to the Labor Inspection to apply administrative liabilities. Among them will be warning, fine and suspension of operation. According to the draft-law, inspection will be scheduled and we will not need agreement from the company to start inspection. Also, we will immediately respond to the lethal facts and any incidents. As for all other cases, we will need permission from the court,” Beka Peradze said.

The representatives of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation state that when passing the law the economic group of the government significantly restricted the coverage area of the law in order to less harm the business. The Trade Union states it is important that the labor inspectors had more mandate to effectively protect labor safety in the country.

“For us it was important to create the labor inspection in compliance with the requirements of the EU Association Agreement. The labor inspection shall be able to examine working conditions and enforce the Labor Code. This draft law does not allow labor inspectors to have unconditional access to working places,” the leader of the youth branch of the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation Giga Bekauri said.

First important but not sufficient step – this is the evaluation of the civil society about the law. 

“Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC) positively evaluates the effort of the state to implement its obligation under the law in terms of establishing state supervision and basic guarantees of labor safety on working places. However, it is noteworthy that the proposed bill does not adequately meet the real needs of the labor safety and health supervision. Namely, the draft law on Labor Safety includes multiple positive provisions such as legislative regulation of basic safety standards and establishment additional state supervision mandate but substantial miscarriages in the law significantly undermines its effectiveness and does not create real and adequate guarantees to defend safety and health of the workers. The miscarriages of the draft law is restricted area of its coverage which hinders spread of safety standards on all employees and also restricts the area of the supervision mandate as the law refers only to hard, harmful and dangerous working places. Granting different labor guarantees to the people working in different places of employment creates clear inequality between employees that should be revised by all means,” the statement of the EMC reads.

According to the Transparency International – Georgia, during the period of 2012-2017, 209 criminal proceedings were initiated by the Prosecutor’s Office for the violation of Article 170 and Chapter XXXI (Breach of Safety Regulations at Work) of the Criminal Code of Georgia. Out of these 209 cases, 20 were dropped. According to information received by the Common Courts, during 2012-2017, the City and District Courts heard a total of 130 cases. In most of these cases, the court issued suspended sentences or agreed to a plea bargain with the defendants. Only in 12 cases did the court issue a sentence of imprisonment. 

According to Article 18 of the draft law, the following type of administrative punishments are envisaged: administrative punishments are envisaged: Warning, fine, suspension of business. According to the draft law a fine is issued when the respective activity is conducted without registration. Moreover, a warning is issued if there are no critical breaches of labor safety norms, while in critical breaches a fine and/or suspension of business may be issued. The draft law does not define what may constitute a critical breach of labor safety norms, even though the distinction implies either a warning or a 5000 GEL fine. It is important for the draft law to define the category for critical breaches on the principle level, and allow any supporting criteria to be determined by other normative acts. Therefore the administrative organ’s discretion to issue punishments in this regard should be spelled out in much more detailed dentitions in the draft law,” the statement of the TI-Georgia reads.

Representatives of CSOs state that it is important to effectively enforce the law. 

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