In Georgia, the Solidarity Center works with trade unions to improve their ability to engage effectively with employers and government representatives.

The Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC), with 147,000 members and 19 affiliated unions, is the largest member-based democratic organization in Georgia. Amid intense political pressure, the GTUC  maintains its independence as an advocate for the enforcement of worker rights and respect for all civil society partners.

Over the past decade, worker rights and the freedom to form union have been weakened through new laws and employer anti-union campaigns. Union membership plummeted between 2006 and 2010 as public and private enterprises threatened to punish workers who signed union application cards.

Although many labor laws, including the freedom to form a union, have improved in recent years, violations of the amended labor codes are rampant, and worker rights are not enforced as required by International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions.

Efforts by the GTUC to rebuild the country’s labor relations system focus on three policy efforts: revising the country’s core labor laws, re-creating an effective labor inspectorate, and restarting effective social policy dialogue through the country’s Tripartite Social Partnership Commission.

GTUC President Irakli Petriashvili is also the elected leader of the Pan European Regional Council (PERC), the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) regional body for European union organizations. Petriashvili has been instrumental in rebuilding the GTUC membership. As head of both the GTUC and PERC, Petriashvili has taken on the task of reforming and strengthening the Georgian trade union movement.

Georgian unions see their role as developing economic, political and industrial policies that benefit workers and civil society and creating a gender-equitable economic middle class that serves as the guarantor of economic stability and democracy.

Solidarity Center programs in Georgia support legislative research and training in defense of trade union rights and gender equality, assist unions to build their capacity to represent all workers and educate workers on principles of democratic trade unionism.