Health minister: Social Service Agency proposal for pay rise for striking workers “adequate”

  • Social workers launched their strike with demands of pay increase on Monday. Photo via New Confederation of Independent Unions., 17 Jan 2022 - 16:43, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Minister of Health of Georgia Zurab Azarashvili has responded to an ongoing strike by 390 social service workers by saying a plan by the Social Service Agency, the public body employing the group, to increase their salaries starting next month is “adequate”.

Azarashvili said the agency’s plan to increase both the fixed wage and per-case bonus of social workers starting in February was modelled to be reflective of their workload, adding the pay increase amounted to as much as 60 percent in some cases.

The social workers - who went on strike on Monday - have so far refused offers from the agency, instead demanding a 100 percent increase in pay.

Davit Omsarashvili, a lawyer from the Solidarity Network union, said the offered pay rise was not enough, while the union has also made comparisons with a more substantial offer made in November, declaring the striking professionals would not accept a “worse version” of the former proposal.

Announcing their intention of launching the strike last week, the workers started the action on Monday, a day after the Social Service Agency announced the pay rise plans starting in February.

The public agency’s intended plan will see an increase of monthly salary from 250 GEL to 400 GEL ($130/€110) for professionals employed as Social Agents, and from 550 GEL to 700 GEL ($225/€200) for Senior Social Agents. In addition, the per-case bonus for the former will be increased from 6 to 10 GEL.

The overall changes would see a pay rise of between 40-60 percent for about 1000 employees, the agency said.

Social workers have made demands for pay increase, and announced strikes related to their current salary, in both 2020 and 2019.