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Defending independent teacher unionism in Georgia

An EI mission visited Georgia on 22-23 June 2010 with the aim of encouraging the Government to refrain from harassing EFSTUG, the EI member organization in Georgia, and to enter into collective bargaining as recommended by the ILO.

The recent decision of the Education Minister to instruct schools to stop the transfer of union dues to the ESFTUG bank account was also addressed. The mission also met with the ESFTUG leadership and local representatives to express the international commitment to support their endeavours. The mission additionally met with representatives from Western embassies and EU representative to inform them about the recent facts affecting the rights of ESFTUG and to lobby for the revision of the General Preferences system and Free Trade Agreement in 2011 to be conditional on respect of freedom of association and collective bargaining, as outlined in the fundamental labour standards. The report from the mission to Georgia highlights that there is an alarming attempt to curb the activities of the independent teacher union ESFTUG through anti union discrimination, interference and rejection by the Government over the last years. In a context of implementation of teacher redundancy plans and certification process, unionised teachers are pressurized into giving up their membership of ESFTUG. Pressure is exerted by Government officials (Ministry of Education and Science and the Heads of the Ministry’s regional offices, Education Resource Centers), employers (school principals) and pro-Government education organizations (such as the Professional Syndicate of Education). The mission recommends that EI and by its member organisations continue to persuade the Government that such actions are anti-democratic, not in conformity with international labour standards and not in the best interests of Georgia. The EI mission was composed of Jorgen Lindholm, Vice-President of the EI Pan European regional Committee, and EI Senior Coordinator Dominique Marlet.

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