We wish to respond to the cases of harm to the lives and health of employees of supermarket “SPAR” over the past few months and once again call on the Georgian authorities to ensure safe working conditions and protection of labor rights.
For years, service workers, and especially retailers, have indicated that they have to work in a health- and life-threatening environment. According to them, due to the absence of security guards, the dangers are particularly high when working night shifts. This circumstance has often been included in the case studies and reports prepared by trade unions and civil society organizations working on labor rights.
Even though these dangers are known and foreseeable to the employers, they refuse to provide retail outlets with security guards. For its part, for the Georgian government, the death of SPAR employee Mate Jomidava did not become a precondition for taking effective steps and, consequently, it failed to prevent a recurrence.
We recognize that the protection of labor rights in the service sector and the elimination of labor exploitation require multifaceted reform. In addition to the lack of security, the issue of working and overtime, minimum wages, vacation, and all other fundamental rights is pressing. However, given the current situation, we believe that the government should respond promptly to the life and health-threatening risks and, among other measures, oblige the companies operating in the service sector to ensure the presence of security personnel at the workplace.
Accordingly, we urge the Department of Labor Inspection of Georgia to immediately carry out inspections of SPAR and other retail outlets, detect violations and hold the company accountable.
At the same time, we call on the Parliament of Georgia not to delay the fundamental reform of the Labor Code and to respond to the severe challenges in the service sector.
Human Rights Education and Monitoring Center (EMC)
Independent Trade Union “Solidarity Network”
Independent Trade Union “Union of Social Workers”
Georgian Young Lawyer’s Association (GYLA)
Independent Trade Union “Ertoba 2013”
Trade Union of Georgian Public Broadcaster
Open Society Georgia Foundation (OSGF)