The Center for Progress, in cooperation with the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Foundation and with the support of the People’s Party, held a forum entitled “Social Agenda at the Local Level: Minimum Wage.” The main topics of the forum were “Workers’ Rights and the Minimum Wage” and “Raising the Minimum Wage – The Political Aspects of the Struggle”.
“Today’s meeting is aimed at discussing the issue of bringing the minimum wage to Georgia. This issue stems from the practice of EU countries. They already have experience and have regulated the issue of minimum wage at the legislative level. As you know, according to surveys, the majority of the Georgian population is in favor of introducing a minimum wage in Georgia. The only factor in reducing poverty may be the introduction of a minimum wage and its regulation by the government at the legislative level, “said Felix Heath, director of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation’s South Caucasus Office.
It is very important that we should raise the minimum wage so that it is at a reasonable rate, but first, we must agree with the various sectors.
“Insufficient remuneration, especially against the background of sharply increased prices, is a serious social problem in Georgia that needs attention. We, therefore, consider it important to start a discussion on setting a minimum wage. The state must set the minimum limit that the employer pays to the employee. From beginning to end it is a European and American practice. We are discussing with industry representatives, the private sector, and trade unions to take the political process together in order to establish a normal and decent remuneration in the state. With foreign experience, for example in Germany, it is a priori right to consult with different sectors and establish the most normal cut-off point with them. We have to raise the minimum wage so that it is at a reasonable rate, but first, we have to agree with different sectors”.
According to Shalva Alaverdashvili, the founder of the Federation of Hotels, in determining the minimum wage, a golden interval should be found between the employer and the employee.
“It is really unacceptable for the minimum wage in the country to be 20 GEL. We need to find the golden mean between employer and employee so that both sides of the position are equally protected and neither side feels oppressed. We are gathered here to balance both the employer and the employee’s priorities. We need to discuss this issue and we will go to the news in the discussion, “Shalva Alaverdashvili said.
As Mariam Kusiani, Coordinator of the Center for Progress noted, the aim of the forum is to create a group with active communication with those interested in the issue, which will work on changing the minimum wage policy.
“As it is known, the 1999 presidential decree is still in force in Georgia, according to which the minimum wage is 20 GEL, which often deprives an employee of the right to a decent salary and has a negative impact on the country’s image. The aim of the forum is to create a group with active communication with those interested in the issue, which will work on changing the minimum wage policy, “Mariam Kusiani said.
The forum – “Social Agenda at the Local Level: Minimum Wage” was also attended by: Irina Sepherteladze – Project Manager of the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, Irakli Petriashvili – “Georgian Trade Union Confederation” – Chairman, Sopho Japaridze – Independent Trade Union – Solidarity Network Chairman – Alexander Ratishvili – Member of the Tbilisi Assembly for the People, Beka Natsvlishvili – Former Member of the Parliament of Georgia, Head of the Master’s Program in Labor Relations, Levan Gogichaishvili – Lawyer, Former Member of the Parliament of Georgia, etc.