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11 Apr 2023

Defending the Rights of the Bakers

"Despite our request, the employer ignored our social status and fired us without even considering how we and our families would cope with life's difficulties. For some of the workers, the only source of income was the salary earned from this job," says *Giorgi, former baker at "Mzekari 13."

*Giorgi is one of forty people who were illegally fired by "Mzekari 13," twenty of whom were ready to continue fighting in court if necessary. The company, which produces and sells baked sweets, did not sign a contract with its employees, and the agreement regarding remuneration was oral, averaging 600 GEL per month. The company owed more than 14,000 GEL to its latter employees.

In this difficult situation, people were left with no means to cover bank obligations and turned to the Georgian Trade Unions Confederation (GTUC) for help. With the support of the USAID Rule of Law Program, GTUC immediately got involved in the process.

GTUC sent a warning notice signed by all 20 employees to the employer stating that if the payment of the debt was refused, they would continue the fight in court. In such a case, the affected employees demanded that the employer provide severance pay by law, in addition to the wage debt. The employer showed wisdom and compensated each employee for their unpaid salaries within 2-3 days after the application was submitted.

GTUC believes that settling disputes through conciliation is always welcome. However, there are cases when the employer completely avoids responsibility. In such cases, the battle continues in court, and often the employer has to pay more than they would have had to settle.

GTUC declares that this behavior is common when employees start working based on a verbal agreement without any contract. Therefore, it is important for individuals to request a written contract from the beginning, specifying their rights and obligations, remuneration, and other important conditions. In the absence of an agreement, not only labor rights violations, but also the very fact that people had worked at all may need to be disputed.

***To protect the confidentiality of the respondent, we have changed the beneficiary name.


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