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14 November 2007

During the last days, the situation in Georgia where an affiliate of the General Confederation of Trade Unions operates has seriously aggravated.

A peaceful people’s demonstration has been dispersed in Tbilisi by order of President M. Saakashvili and with the use of brutal force. A state of emergency has been introduced in the country whereby considerable restrictions have been imposed on many basic rights and freedoms of citizens and on the media activities, while practically all TV-channels have been closed and some opposition leaders have been subjected to arbitrary arrests or expelled from Georgia. The pre-term presidential elections set for January, with the pre-election campaign proceeding largely in such conditions, will hardly result in the reconciliation of the existing political contradictions in the country.

The current events are taking place against the background of a deep economic crisis. Georgia ranks one of the worst in the Commonwealth of Independent States as regards major social indicators characterising the living standards of the population. It was more than once that measures infringing upon trade union rights have been introduced and interference in internal affairs of the Georgian trade union movement have been undertaken.

Also, it should not be forgotten that the new draft Labour Code has been developed and adopted without consultations with the Georgian Trade Union Confederation, and some of its provisions are in direct contradiction with the fundamental conventions of the International Labour Organisation. This is specifically noted in the report by the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations. It is no wonder that the recent actions by the Georgian state authorities have been condemned by the world trade union community.

The General Confederation of Trade Unions affiliating national trade union centres from nine CIS countries and 31 industrial trade union internationals of the region expresses its deep concern over the course of events in Georgia and their potential consequences.

The GCTU calls upon the Georgian state authorities to take urgent steps to normalise the situation in the country on the basis of cancelling the state of emergency, returning to constitutional order, preparing and holding the presidential elections in the atmosphere of peace and democracy, and taking due account of the true opinion of the Georgian workers and people.

General Confederation of Trade Unions

Moscow, 14 November 2007