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Young Barristers: Georgian Companies Ignore Corporate Responsibility

The association of Young Barristers has introduced the results of the monitoring of social responsibility, labor rights, foreign appellations, trademarks and legal status of Georgia-based companies.

Salome Goglidze, a lawyer at the Young Barristers, says citizens prefer to purchase expensive things, products and other goods with foreign brand names with international authority and recognition. However, scrupulous exploration shows these companies just swindle the consumer market – they do not hold due quality papers, franchising agreements and have no obligation to deliver information on their status to the customers. The organization has made accent on which companies use trademarks, a symbol or a complex of symbols in line with legislation, whether they own an agreement on franchising or any other licenses/ permissions or the right to use the appellation of a foreign company. At the same time, the presented information should be profoundly explored and the society should have information on the indifferent and irresponsible attitudes from the companies.

According to the monitoring, only 3 companies from the selected 19 companies have taken part in the research and given full information. Five companies have only notified they do not hold the status of a famous foreign brand in Georgia. Consequently, the mentioned companies have preferred not to answer other questions. The remaining 12 companies have entirely refused to communicate with the company. The association had invited: Carrefour, Coca-Cola, McDonalds, SOCAR, DIESEL, Radisson, Benetton, Beeline, Swatch, Ives Roche, Samsung, Forbes, Ziraat Bank, Qatar Airways, Villeroy and Boch, Swarovski, VIVUS.ge, KFC and National Geographic. Under the selection criteria, the companies were to be from various consumer sectors for identifying their brand status in relation to their appellation.

According to the monitoring, Coca-Cola Bottlers Georgia, Carrefour and Beeline have partly answered the question. The monitoring has showed up special offices at these companies permanently carry out monitoring of the rights and obligations of the employees. Moreover, all three companies have concluded 12-month or unlimited labor agreements in line with the labor code. As to the information on the world brand status of these companies, according to Coca-Cola bottlers Georgia, it uses the name of Coca-Cola and this is registered at the national center of intellectual property, while Carrefour and Beeline have not provided similar information. As to Ives Roche, Villeroy and Boch, National Geographic, Forbes and Swatch, their information referred to their operation in Georgia with a brand status. According to their information, their companies are not related to any foreign company, they were founded in Georgia and they do not represent a branch of any foreign company and do not hold the status of any foreign company. Moreover, the remaining 12 companies have not provided any information. Therefore, we could not collect information on standards of labor rights protection, legal status and their accountability to the consumers.

The monitoring has showed the Georgia-based companies with foreign appellations do not care enough for the corporate responsibility and social dialogue. Therefore, we face difficulties with delivering exact information to the society on which companies use the status of a brand and own an agreement on franchising or any other permits and licenses or the right to use the appellation of a foreign company.

The Young Barristers have notified the companies having refused participation in the research to provide valuable information on the mentioned questions until July 31, 2015, and to publish the information on their official websites for sake of the public interest.

For information: We started working on the research “Foreign Companies in Georgia, their Status and Employees” in March 2015. The monitoring has been developed as part of an independent initiative of the organization.