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Debate Over Georgia's New Minimum Wage Must Be Rooted In Human Rights Standards And Include All Stakeholders

The lack of decent wages is one of the most acute social problems in Georgia today. The official minimum wage for the private sector in Georgia is 20 GEL, which has not been revised since 1999. A significant number of people earn wages below the subsistence minimum, which means they do not earn enough for to cover their basic needs. 

On February 19, the Health Care and Social Issues Committee of Parliament announced its support for proposed legislation to raise Georgia’s minimum wage. The proposed bill was submitted by the Georgian Trade Union Confederation (GTUC) and envisions setting Georgia’s minimum wage at 40% of the average (mean) salary. According to 2022 data, this would work out to 636 GEL per month. The proposal is now expected to be submitted to the Tripartite Social Partnership Commission for further discussion. 

It is clear that Georgia urgently needs to update its minimum wage. But it is critical that the new minimum wage – and the process used to create it – complies with international human rights law and responds to the real needs of Georgian workers. 

International human rights law is clear that Georgia must set its minimum wage at a level that allows workers to afford a “decent living.” This means that any methodology used to set the wage must look at more than basic subsistence needs. It must consider workers’ social welfare, including social security, health, education, participation in cultural and social activities and more. This is why the Fair Labor Platform has long advocated that all workers should be based on a living wage analysis. 

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Further, we believe that the debate over Georgia’s minimum wage is a critically important one which should include the widest possible participation from all stakeholders. This means that consultations must stretch beyond the Tripartite Social Partnership Commission. Self-organized groups of workers, sectoral trade unions, civil society organizations working on labor rights and representatives of the academic field should all be given the opportunity to contribute to this process as well.

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