On June 12, ISET hosted Kinan Bahnassi of the International Labor Organization, one of several UN-affiliated bodies active in Georgia. Mr. Bahnassi treated the audience of students, staff and faculty to an interesting, perceptive and rather creative presentation.

Mr. Bahnassi began by explaining that although the ILO presence in Georgia is comparatively small compared to other organizations, it has had a significant impact in the country. He drew particular attention to the lack of a national labor code, and the fact that many people working in the country (particularly those in manual jobs) face hazardous conditions. This issue is particularly poignant for Georgians, since loss of life in the building industry and mining is – while not common – still too much of a regular occurrence. However, thanks to the ILO’s efforts, health and safety standards on construction sites will be introduced later this year, with appropriate attire and helmets becoming mandatory.

The debate over working hours has become a frequent topic of discussion in recent years, especially as increasing numbers of modern industries (especially workplaces such as technology startups) find the traditional nine-to-five standard incompatible or irrelevant. Research and experiments – most notably those conducted in Scandinavia – have also contributed to the discussion, especially with regards to the idea that overworking can be unhealthy or dangerous.

However, the experiments and research have universally been concentrated on the developed world, with the circumstances of many countries remaining unexamined. To this end, Maksym Obrizan of the Kyiv School of Economics has been examining the issue in a wider context on his own.

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