Several dozen employees of the Georgian Public Broadcaster (GPB) gathered in front of the television headquarters on September 3 to protest against the TV management’s decision to change the terms of their employment foreseeing the transfer from full time to zero hour contracts.
The new offer, signed by Vasil Maglaperidze, GPB’s General Director, will also entail transition from fixed to hourly reimbursement and will concern approximately 150 employees of the publicly-funded television, according to the GPB Trade Union, which organized the rally today.
The trade union said the new contract terms would worsen the“living and working conditions” of the employees, with Nino Zautashvili, one of its members, stressing the decision was a way to dismiss the staff members. “Sacking a person based on the employer’s personal views only is very unprofessional,” she told Civil.ge.
Irakli Mikiashvili, who has worked as a video editor at GPB for almost 25 years and who was among the protesters at today’s rally, told Civil.ge that he received the revised contract terms last Friday and was given only a four day notice to agree or decline the proposal.
Mikiashvili explained that his current contract will be terminated, if he decides to decline the offer. He also said the proposal does not specify the number of working hours, and that he doubted he would be called at all. “The TV management chose such a form to sack the employees,” he added.
Similar points were raised by the Coalition for Media Advocacy, a group of twelve rights watchdogs. The Coalition said GPB management’s decision was “unjustified” and that “it could be aimed at firing tens of employees.” It also urged the TV management to avoid “mass dismissals” and elaborate “fair and unbiased mechanisms for staff evaluations.”
The GPB management responded to the accusations in a statement today, saying the decision was part of its plans to address the problems of low job attendance and over-staffing.
“In certain administrative units the workload was either unevenly distributed or did not correspond to the work mode … as a result, there are excess working groups in the television, which does not meet the programming requirements and significantly increases our human resources,” the statement reads.
The GPB management also specified that the offer was made to approximately 70 staff members, rather than the 150 employees as reported by the GPB trade union.