On 19-20 September the European Commission (DG EMPL) held a seminar in Tbilisi to discuss labour standards and working conditions in Georgia in relation to the economic association and the free trade area opened by the Association Agreement between the EU and Georgia.
Concrete cases of enforcement practices in EU and other countries, as well as by European businesses present in Georgia, were actively discussed in the light of Georgia’s current process of re-establishing its enforcement system. A highlight of the discussions was the business case for improving labour standards, working conditions and labour market institutions in order to increase productivity, enhance skills and added-value in the global supply and value chain as well as for sustainable development.
A session dedicated to businesses - organised in cooperation with the European Business Association in Georgia – provided a sample of undertakings in key sectors for the country’s economic development (catering and hotels, financial services, building, food processing etc.). By showing how good OSH and working conditions can be combined with successful businesses, it was a real plus in making the case.
The seminar brought together around 80 participants, representing key Georgian stakeholders - authorities, social partners, civil society organisations, labour practitioners and experts as well as businesses, EU social partners, labour practitioners from EU institutions, EU Member States, Candidate Countries and Neighbouring Countries as well as the ILO.
The seminar came very timely as a first OSH law (limited to hazardous activities) that also provides for inspections, just entered into force, and intense legislative work is on-going to extend the coverage of this law, to amend the labour code and the anti-discrimination act in order to better align with a number of EU directives and ILO conventions.
The seminar inaugurated a regular dialogue on labour, employment and social issues between DG EMPL and Georgia and will be followed by another event in 2019.