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Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia officially addressed chairman of the Parliament of Georgia – Mr Davit Bakradze to ask his support in negotiating with the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia with the aim of renewing cooperation between the two parties.


“Mr Bakradze


We are aware of your positive attitude towards democratic processes in Georgia and your position concerning the role of workers’ unions in supporting democracy. Unfortunately, confrontation between the union and the Ministry is becoming so severe that our members have legitimate question whether the reasons lie in government policy. Thousands of our members demand the answer to this question and we considered it relevant to address you with a letter and describe the causes for current situation.
When Mr Dimitry Shashkini was appointed as the Minister of Education and Science, the relations between ESFTUG president – Manana Ghurchumalidze and him became tense, which had negative influence on our organization’s development. All kind of cooperation between two parties was terminated, union representatives cannot hold meetings at schools any more and we are officially out of decision making process in education system.
 The Ministry also simplified teachers’ dismissal process by deleting the articles from the order #959 (“On Approving Obligatory Terms of Labor Agreement between a School director and a Teacher”) that determined obligatory procedures for teacher’s dismissal. It should be noted that amendments to the order were made without involvement of ESFTUG that violates article #26 of the Law on General Education of Georgia. As a result of full ignore of the trade union, teachers are left without any mechanisms to protect their labour, socio-economic and legal rights. Furthermore, following the Minister’s verbal order, school directors stopped transfering ESFTUG membership fees to organization’s account.
As union governing board believed that the reason for conflict was personal incompatibility, Ms Ghurchumaldize resigned from occupied position in September, 2010. On 30 October of the same year at 6th Extraordinary Congress I was elected as ESFTUG president. During the Congress part of the delegates left the hall and refused to participate in voting. On 22 November, 2010 they filed a lawsuit in Tbilisi City Court demanding abolition of congress results despite the fact that I was elected by majority of delegates.
Legitimacy of the congress was confirmed by the representatives of international delegation who attended the congress. Specifically, Assistant Secretary General of EI - Gaston De La Haye, Representative of EU Delegation to Georgia – Oliver Reisner, Director of AFT International Affairs Department - David Dorn, US Solidarity Center Country Program Director – Robert Fielding, Director of Friedrich Ebert Foundation in Georgia – Ia Tikanadze. They made public statements that are enclosed with this letter.
I also inform you that before being elected as a president I was working at public school #32 as a maths teacher and at the same time I was a primary organization leader at my school, member of Tbilisi City Organization and Congress Delegate. I was aware of tough situation inside the union and my motivation for becoming president was to transform the union and instead of confronting the government, to use mechanism of constructive social dialogue.
Social dialogue is essential mechanism for the union to accomplish its aims and objectives and support country’s democratic development. Unfortunately our effort did not have any tangible outcomes. After my election as a president, me and organization leaders addressed the Ministry of Education and Science with official letters (please see copies enclosed), where we demanded meeting with the Minister to solve existing problems through social partnership and constructive dialogue. However, we have not yet received any answer from the Ministry.
The Ministry continues to follow the policy of disregarding teachers’ union. We do not have opportunity to meet teachers at schools, participate in education reform and work with our members. We still cannot get membership dues. By such kind of actions, the Ministry violates country’s legislation and international legal requirements.
According to article 12 of the “Law on Trade Unions” one of the basic rights of the unions is the right to collective bargaining, concluding collective agreements and monitoring its implementation. Article 21(5) says that government supports unions to implement constitutional objectives and protects its rights. On a meeting with ESFTUG and its member teachers on 8 May, 2008, the president of Georgia stated that “government shall carry out intensive dialogues with the trade union that will be based on European principles and values and authorities should take into consideration their opinions in decision making process, with the aim to improve education system and teachers’ condition in Georgia and making teaching profession the most prestigious career”.
The Ministry of Education and Science violates the right to association guaranteed by article 26 of the Constitution of Georgia. The Ministry intereferes in union activities and hinders its development, while at the same time neglects union’s role and excludes it from decision making process in education system.

By its illegitimate actions, the Ministry violates article 11 of European Convention on Human Rights and article 22  International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of UN, which states that everyone has right to establish or join trade union.
The government is obliged to support union activism determined by ILO Conventions #87, #98 and European Social Charter.
Based on all abovementioned, we conclude that the Ministry aims at dismantling ESFTUG, which it successfully accomplishes by creating artificial obstacles for union’s advancement.
International Organizations and accredited diplomatic corps representatives in Georgia are informed about the tense situation and they explicitly condemn the facts and attempts to demolish ESFTUG. I would like to notify you that at their own initiative, I had official meetings with ambassadors of US, EU and other high-level diplomats. Sadly, our problems had negative resonance outside Georgia.
Hence, we ask you take the role of mediator and support renewing cooperation between our union and the Ministry of Education and Science of Georgia".