Ombudsman releases statement regarding death of minor construction worker

The situation of safety at work remains a major challenge in the country, Public Defender of Georgia Nino Lomjaria said in a statement on July 17, responding to the death of the minor construction worker in Tbilisi.

“The tragedy of the death of an underage construction worker moved the public on July 16, 2019. The juvenile fell into an elevator shaft on Dolbauri Street, Tbilisi. Reportedly, safety norms were not observed at the construction site, as a result of which, the construction process has been suspended.

Unfortunately, the situation of safety at work remains a major challenge in the country. Improvement of the alarming situation is significantly hindered by the restrictions imposed for labour inspectors on the one hand, which will be lifted only from September 2019, and by the lack of human and financial resources of the Labour Conditions Inspection Department on the other hand.

Due to the above factors, workplaces cannot be inspected sufficiently often and perfectly so that to ensure effective enforcement of labour safety norms. As a result, like the last case, a lot of workplaces are left beyond monitoring and the requirements of the Georgian legislation are significantly violated.

It should be particularly underlined that the given case includes the signs of violation of not only the labour safety norms, but also the Labour Code of Georgia, which prohibits labour relations with a minor for performing grave, harmful and hazardous work.

Regrettably, timely detection, effective response and prevention of cases of involvement of children in the worst and hazardous forms of labour is still an unresolved problem. At the same time, the state does not have an effective mechanism for monitoring child’s labour rights. As a result, detection of cases of involvement of children in the worst and hazardous forms of labour remains beyond the effective control of the state.

Despite the fact that according to the International Labour Organization’s Convention concerning the Prohibition and Immediate Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour, a priority action plan and effective mechanism should be developed at the national level for the elimination of the worst forms of child labour, the above has not been implemented in Georgia. It remains a systemic problem that, due to extreme poverty, family negligence and improper social conditions, children have to perform work that is inadequate for their age or psycho-physical development. This trend is absolutely alarming and requires attention and immediate measures by the responsible authorities,” the statement reads.

The Public Defender urges the authorities to timely and efficiently study the case that occurred on Dolbauri Street and to inform the public of the results. In addition, we address the Government of Georgia, the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Georgia to take immediate steps to eliminate the worst forms of child labour and to prevent children from performing harmful work.

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