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Elen Manaseryan. “Many issues in labor relations were resolved through collective negotiations”

WomenNet.am spoke with Elen Manaseryan, head of the Training Center of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia, about the violations of workers’ rights in the state of emergency, unpaid salaries, problems in employer-employee relations, as well as the necessary changes in the field of labor code.


– After the declaration of a state of emergency in order to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) infection in the country, many citizens are complaining to the Confederation of Trade Unions of Armenia that their labor rights are not being ensured. In this regard, the confederation offers the government and employers to take joint measures to protect the jobs and wages of employees, and to respect the objective absences from work. The Confederation also pursued and participated in the latest amendments to the Labor Code and amendments, where a number of issues in the labor relations were resolved during the state of emergency, says Elen Manaseryan.


According to her, social partnership plays an important role in labor relations, especially in the current situation, as many issues in labor relations were resolved through collective negotiatons.


The lawyer expressed confidence that with solidarity and social cooperation it is possible to overcome the problems in labor relations and create new opportunities by applying the principles of social partnership. According to her, the recent dispute over the remuneration of workers in the field of mining metallurgy was resolved within the framework of social partnership. The problem was mainly with isolated and self-isolated workers, whose remuneration was not resolved, which was eventually resolved through collective negotiations with employees being paid 2/3 of their salary.


Touching upon a number of contradictions and omissions in the RA Labor Code, Elen Manaseryan reminded that the new law “On Making Amendments and Addenda to the Labor Code of the Republic of Armenia” recently defined the concept of “insurmountable force”, as it is an insurmountable force. In such cases, the employer did not pay the employee. With the amendment of this provision of the law, instead of the words “does not pay” was adopted “may not pay”, i.e. everything depends on the agreement of the parties, the fact of the employer’s being solvent and his attitude.


The next amendment to the Labor Code deals with the calculation of wages paid to employees during forced layoffs, which used to be 2/3 of the average wage. Due to the reasons, the employer pays the salary provided by the legislation.


Elen Manaseryan also touched upon the calculation of the minimum wage and the lack of its mechanisms.


– From time to time the minimum wage is raised in Armenia, but it is not specified for whom the current 68 thousand AMD salary is intended, that is, we do not have the mechanism to define it, what qualified employee should receive the minimum salary? Today, a doctor who has completed a residency and a secondary school employee can receive a minimum wage of 68,000 AMD, which, to put it mildly, is not fair. Meanwhile, the Republic of Armenia has adopted the RA Law on the Minimum Consumer Basket of Livelihood, which, however, does not work. The Confederation has repeatedly stated that, but the state is not taking any steps in that direction, E. Manaseryan said.


According to the lawyer, the cases of violation of women’s labor rights, especially women with children, are also problematic. They have become especially evident in the case of distance education in the country, which mainly affects female teachers, who spend most of their day at the computer due to online learning with students, and receive the same salary for more busy work.


According to Elen Manaseryan, in the current situation, there is no discrimination related to the violation of the labor rights of male and female employees, and if they have been violated, they are not conditioned by gender.


– In general, there is gender discrimination in the country, when women are paid less than men. This is despite the fact that the Republic of Armenia has ratified the Convention on Equal Labor for Equal Work for Women and Men, adopted by the International Labor Organization, and the equality of women and men is enshrined in the RA Constitution and the Labor Code. And although we do not have a direct violation of the salaries or rights of women and men working in the same position, but to what extent do women have the opportunity to work in higher positions and then be paid higher? Discrimination is hidden here, for the simple reason that the principle of “glass ceiling and adhesive flooring” still applies in the country, when a career-seeking woman encounters obstacles when she also has a low self-esteem. It is also a fact that women make up the majority in low-paid areas, ”says E. Manaseryan.


During the conversation, the head of the IAEA Training Center called for public awareness not only about the dangers of the pandemic, but also about the labor rights and responsibilities of employees. According to her, the Training Center has initiated a process to raise awareness about the rights and responsibilities of employees in order to prevent the spread of the pandemic through animated films, as well as to raise the legal awareness of employees and employers. The center intends to continuously inform filmmakers, as well as high school students, about the violated labor rights and interests, so that the individual entering the labor market is informed in advance about his / her labor rights and responsibilities.

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