Georgia: Teachers determined to bring the government to the negotiating table
For the Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia (ESFTUG), one of EI's affiliates in Georgia representing 103.000 teachers, a strike is becoming increasingly inevitable. Despite long negotiations, high pressure on the government, and even a court decision ordering the authorities to make legal provisions for social dialogue with the teacher organisations, the government has so far procrastinated to start collective bargaining.
In July 2009, EI supported a training workshop for officials both of the teacher union and of the Ministry of Education on the various aspects of social dialogue and collective bargaining. ESFTUG has been building on these foundations to further develop joint training on a local level with the local authorities and education resource centres. On the federal level, however, the government has not moved forward in setting up joint consultative and negotiating processes for teachers in Georgia.
In December, ESFTUG's Executive Board decided to prepare measures to hold a national strike on 2 March if the demands for social dialogue are not met. On 2 February, the union strike committee in Akhaltsikhe tried to meet. Unionised school leaders were pressurised by security officials not to attend the union meeting. Moreover, the meeting was put under surveillance by security forces, a fact that greatly increased tensions.
EI has sent a protest letter to the Georgian government requesting that social dialogue be considered a priority by the authorities and the reached agreements be substantiated.