06/18/19 a working meeting was held and the results of the project “Monitoring the protection of workers’ rights” by the forested “International Society for Human Rights” Armenian Section
The event was attended by more than 30 stakeholders, representatives of state and public organizations, students.
Working rights are very topical in today’s Armenian reality, and in fact they are quite difficult to solve. The issues of protecting the rights of workers and ensuring proper working conditions have not been resolved since the independence of Armenia, the transition from social and legal relations to market relations has been accompanied and continues to be mainly with gross violations of the rights and interests of workers, especially in the private sector. Before the 2018 Revolution, the authorities mainly served the interests of businessmen, the reason for which was the merging of the public administration system and the business environment. In this way, workers’ rights have always been pushed to the background, which was also promoted by a high level of unemployment.
Until 2015, the State Labor Inspectorate functioned in Armenia, which, despite some shortcomings, was also a supervisory authority. After the transformation of 2015, the structure has undergone various changes and became the Health Inspectorate, which has very few responsibilities and does not even have the right to conduct inspections, but more precisely does not have instructions.
In these circumstances, the role of civil society in the protection of labor rights is great. We have a huge disadvantage in this area from the legal side, and on the other hand, a less legitimate worker who also does not see a third party objectively interested in his interests, in legal relations with the employer.
The main objective of the project was to study the working conditions of employees in supermarkets, network trading, identify and pose questions.
We conducted research in 8 shopping centers, supermarkets of food and clothing, which are mainly employed by thousands of people, especially young girls. We had preliminary data, as the organization has been dealing with these issues for several years. In almost all stores, employees are forced to work in conditions that do not meet the requirements of health. These include, for example, the obligation to remain on their feet for all working hours, that is, throughout the working time, which often lasts from 12 to 13 hours, workers have no right to sit down, even for a minute, or even lean on something.
As part of the project, we chose the list of stores to be studied, which was related to the size of the stores and the popularity of the network. Our outlets were divided into two groups: local and franchises.
From February to March 2019, there were 233 observations in selected stores,
networks, such as “Yerevan City”, “SAS”, “Carrefour”, “NEW ZOVQ”, “NEW YORKER”
“ZARA”, “Basic Center”, “WORLD OF CLOTHES”.
Bili observed more than 4,000 employees.
in parallel with the observations, more than 10 deeper
interview with an average duration of 40 minutes. The interviews were anonymous.
It is noteworthy that during all these observations and comprehensive surveys, the researchers did not meet more than one employee / sales consultant / in a sitting position and cashiers also in clothing stores. In the halls of shops there are no chairs, if there are several shops, they are intended only for buyers. The study, among other things, also showed that employees, especially in local area networks, have restrictions on a number of rights, such as a 15-minute break for 13 hours of work, lack of free days and annual leave, non-registration of employees, Disrespect for the dignity of employees, numerous violations that are described in our report, available from
https://protected-employee.am/category/%d5%b0%d5%a5%d5%bf%d5%a1%d5%a6% d5% b6% d5% b6% d5% b8% d6% 82% d5 % b8% d5% b6% d5% b8% d6% 82% d5% b8% d6% 82%
During the final conference, Hermine Karapetyan, an expert on in-depth research of the team, presented the difficult path that the group went through during the survey. It was quite difficult to find people who would agree to talk about the conditions of their work. However, our public activities, active discussion of this topic in social networks, allowed us to identify a group of volunteers who provided the expert group with accurate information about the working conditions of workers in these networks, subject to confidentiality.
In the course of the project, in response to our warnings, the Labor Protection Inspectorate of the Republic of Armenia issued an official statement, which specifically stated that work done on the feet of 50 percent during working hours and without a normal break is considered hazardous to health. Service sector employees (especially in network centers) often work in hazardous conditions. They work up to 12 hours a day in a standing position without rest and food, without regular breaks, weekly uninterrupted rest and annual leave, without the right of workers to fair working conditions. ”
After that, the inspection body conducted a series of seminars in supermarkets.
At the final seminar, the senior specialist of the inspection body Alvard Arshakyan presented the work they had done according to our recommendations, which, of course, is the most important achievement of our program. But the final solution of the problem still requires considerable effort. Artur Asoyan, Head of the Inspection Department for the Coordination of Inspections of the RA Government Staff, expressed the organization’s readiness to provide support and propose effective solutions to these problems.
Within the framework of the project, we also created a labor rights protection group. After preliminary discussion, a working group on the protection of workers’ rights was formed during a two-day seminar in Aghveran on May 18-19, in which representatives of non-governmental organizations and independent experts participated. Anahit Tovmasyan, a member of the group, presented the activities of the group and various letters addressed to us. https://protected-employee.am/%d5%a1%d5%ab%d5%ba%d5%b0%d5%af/
During the project, a multifunctional website called “Protected Worker” was created https://protected-employee.am/,
The site, among other pages, also has the ability to receive complaint applications from site visitors. The site also has a blog section where the topic can be discussed and moved to the social network Facebook.
An animated video from the beginning of the final seminar was shown at https://humanrights-online.org/protected-employee-ishr-armenia-%d5%ba%d5%a1%d5%b7%d5%bf%d5%ba%d5 % a1% d5% b7% d5% d5% b5% d5% d5% d5% d5% b5% d5% d5% d5% b4% d5% d5% d5% b4% d5% d5% Lilit Avdalyan, sociological analyst, unveiled research findings, methodology, and conclusions.
According to the results of the study, a legal analysis of the situation was compiled, which was included in the report. The author of the report, Helen Manaseryan, presented the report and the legal proposals of the working group.
Discussions, exchanges of opinions took place in a very rich atmosphere, which indicates the importance and relevance of the problem.
Within six months, the project working group performed all its tasks.
But this continues and it can be said that the process of protecting the interests of workers begins both for the organization and for the group of workers’ advocates established during the project.
Our working group is ready to cooperate with state, non-governmental and international organizations to protect the rights of workers.
The program “Monitoring the rights of workers” is implemented under the subprogram provided for in the project “Consortium Obligation” under the auspices of the Armenian Bar Association with the financial support of the European Union.
Co-financing of the project was carried out by the German section of the ISHR.
Bela Shikaryan President of the ISHR Armenian Section