May 1 is International Workers' Day. This day has great importance for the solidarity of the workers and annually reminds us of the challenges that these individuals face. May 1 reminds us of the importance of the work done by employees and the need for decent working conditions. The right to work is the most important part of social rights and is linked to the essence of the social state, the main purpose of which is to ensure a dignified human life.
First of all, we would like to express our gratitude to the representatives of the profession who, in the conditions of the pandemic, stand guard over the health and safety of the society in Georgia and in the world. The pandemic has shown us the importance of the work of not only doctors but also paramedics, nurses, service workers, and others working in the field, who today have to work in difficult working conditions in exchange for minimal payment. We also note that the state has an increased obligation to protect the working conditions and safety of these individuals.
It should also be noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has left lots of people in the world without jobs. This challenge is also relevant in Georgia, and in these conditions, many people, employed in both formal and informal sectors, and self-employed people have lost their jobs and some were forced to take unpaid leave.
While the labour legislation of Georgia still does not comply with international standards, and the mandate of the Labour Conditions Inspection Department does not apply to the inspection of working conditions, this further increases the risk of unjustified dismissal and/or giving an unpaid leave of employees under these conditions.
The government has introduced the anti-crisis socio-economic plan, including a package of social assistance for workers who lost jobs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is important that the plan provides not only a package of assistance for those employed in the formal sector but also for those in the informal sector and the self-employed persons.
However, it raises questions about the adequacy of the one-time 300 GEL assistance offered to informal and/or self-employed individuals, while these individuals were left without a daily income during the pandemic. Also, according to the instructions of granting compensation to the victims of the coronavirus pandemic initiated by the Georgian government, in some cases, there is no possibility for self-employed persons and employees in the informal sector to receive this assistance. According to the current data, a person who was employed with a natural person (nanny, cleaner, driver, etc.) will not receive a one-time assistance of 300 GEL from the state.
Georgia, as a social state, has a constitutional obligation to take care of strengthening the principles of social justice, equality, and solidarity in society. The lack of unified labour policy at the state level and the misunderstanding of the importance of guaranteeing labour rights have a negative impact on the social protection and stability of ordinary employees, which in turn is detrimental to the well-being of the state.
In view of all the above mentioned, it is necessary for the state to implement reform of labour legislation in a timely manner and bring it in line with international standards, which will greatly protect the rights of employees.
In the context of the spreading of COVID-19, to continue/take appropriate measures to ensure adequate compensation for persons who lost jobs and to ensure the proper implementation of their labour rights.
It is also important to develop a mechanism by which people employed by individuals who have lost their jobs in a pandemic situation will not be left without social assistance as defined by the anti-crisis plan.