Tbilisi City Hall Appoints Nursery School Principals only for 10-Days
The Tbilisi City Hall is know announcing non-existent vacancies. For example, on August 14, 2007 the City Hall announced the vacancies for the posts of the nursery school principals when new heads of these preschools were actually appointed by the same body ten day before. The Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union of Georgia alleges that the City Hall chose new people for the posts of the principals, and some had not even applied for the vacancies at all, and this was neither fair or legal. However, it is not the first time the City Hall has appointed principals for nursery schools on its own, and without following prescribed procedures and outlined under the law.
The City Hall issued a decree on August 4, 2007 that declared the nursery schools as non-profit organizations. At the same time, with this decree the City Hall appointed the principals of the nursery schools by a competitive process, not a the sole direction of City Hall. The decree proclaimed that the City Hall contract with the principals should be limited (contract expiration date should be indicated in the contract). However, in spite of all the claims, principals were not provided with any contracts whatsoever.
Maia Liparteliani, is the attorney representing the dismissed principals. She maintains that there are instances where in the law that an oral agreement can be considered as an integral part of a contract. However, in this case it is not impossible to put much credence in the value of an oral agreement. The point is that the date of contract expiration was not indicated by the principals.
“When one talks about the date it must be indicated in the contract. If it is not the contract is automatically considered as be open-ended”, says Liparteliani.
The principals had reached an oral agreement with the City Hall and they started working under such terms. But they had been ascribed the status of nursery principals only for ten days. On August 14, 2007, Tbilisi City Hall announced open vacancies for principal posts, and this was announced spontaneously. However, those already appointed in these posts were not informed about the competition.
No one knew about the criteria of with which the City Hall would appoint the principals this time around, no one knew if it was a requirement for the old principals to apply for the open vacancies as well. As Maia Liparteliani says, there is no legal basis that requires that the principals of the nursery houses must be selected on basis of a competition. Besides, the City Hall announced vacancies when the principals were away on their vacations. The information on the vacancies on the posts of nursery house principals was only publicized by newspaper 24 Saati (hours) and the official website of the Tbilisi City Hall. However, this begs the question if this was adequate or not, especially in light that the way announcements are noted in public has its own stipulated set of procedures.
Maia Liparteliani: “There were some misunderstandings about the information provided about the vacancies: Some principals that were appointed under the decree dated August 4, 200. However, they did not know for sure that they had to participate in the competition for the posts, as they had been already appointed, and too, because they were on vacation; some only found out about it because someone had told them, others thought that it was just a formality, and for this reason they did not apply for the vacancies; some did participate and won the position.
The applicants wrote a test first, and then those who passed this round were asked to for an interview. You know that there are always some doubts about the impartiality of this kind of contests. Sometimes it is impossible for the applicant to make out why he was rejected.”
The misunderstanding finished as swiftly as it had started: The Tbilisi City Hall issued the amendment on September 24, 2007 to the decree dating August 4, 2007. According to the amendment, the old principals that were appointed on August 14, 2007 were dismissed and the new ones appointed. The strange is that the decree of August 4, 2007 appoints and at the same time dismisses the one and the same principals. They were dismissed on the grounds of the contest that was announced later. How could they know about the results of the contest that was held on August 14 as early as August 4, 2007?
Maia Liparteliani: “This decree is anecdotic and beyond the scopes of being within the legal norm. While talking about appointing and dismissing the principals the City Hall indicates on Article 31, of the Civil Code. In fact this article has nothing to do with the appointing or dismissing staff.It covers the issue of branch registration, which means that if the branch of the organization is registered and some changes are made to the registration, it must be again registered.
Those affected were not provided with notifications, neither about the announcement of the competition nor about that did they no longer have their jobs. The director of the nursery school was implementing her activities when representatives of the Tbilisi City Hall introduced her a young girl who was now the new director with responsibility for the school. The affected parties could only get hold of the notifications on the resolutions after they had personally made an appeal to the City Hall. Consequently, we conclude that the competition for the vacancies of the nursery school directors was illegal and that is why we have brought a suit to the court.”
Moreover, lawyers also have some complaints about the competition too. They claim that people were appointed to the positions of the directors without having taken part in the competition; it is also alleged that even some of those that had actually participated in the competition were unable to score enough points to be appointed to the position.
Natali Koridze, lawyer for the Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union, stated: “It is useless to announce a competition unless it is real. The aim of the City Hall to announce the competition was to replace old directors with new and more experienced ones. It was thought that they who would have received higher points during the open competition. However, they actually appointed competitors who scored lower points, or ones who did not take part in the competition at all.”
Maia Liparteliani, lawyer for the Trade Union, considers that it was impossible to carry out the competition in accordance to the law. “I do not say that it is impossible to sack directors. However, if the government had come to the conclusion that the position must be occupied by a person who won in open competition, they then should have followed the same example as did the Ministry of Education. They should have worked out the agenda for the competition, introduce the agenda to the society, and taken care to stipulate any standard that a director must meet in order to be appointed through the competition.
However, it is clear that the resolution allowing for the competition, as stipulated by the Tbilisi City Hall states that “A competition on the vacant positions in the nursery schools shall be announced.” However, there were not actual vacancies. The lawyer defines that the announcement of the competition means that they had vacancies to fill. Though it is not correct, this does not make the first time when local self-government took on itself to appoint the director, albeit a blatant violation of Georgian law.
Lawyers for the Trade Union speak about another occasion to. Gori Municipality set up a department, a union, which should have regulated the legal side of the nursery schools. However, the unions were illegally registered. More exactly, the nursery schools were not registered as private legal entities when the union was established; no nursery schools belonged to the union as an independent legal entity. Afterwards, the union held a competition. Old directors were fired and new ones were appointed in their place.
Kakha Kalmakhelidze; the lawyer of the Shida Kartli regional branch of the Educators and Scientists Free Trade Union told: “We brought administrative suit to the court and informed the regional governor about the situation. The Municipality Board then canceled the resolution on establishing the union. They annulled the results of the competition and re-appointed old directors to their positions. The competition was held illegally because the people were hired based on the clan and family network system, Even the governor spoke about such facts himself.”
Several court hearings were held on the cases regarding the directors of the nursery schools. The judge sent the case from Administrative Procedures for a ruling to the Civil Court.
Maia Lipartelianui: “I cannot tell you how the case discussion will end. However, aside from a misdemeanor violation of the law, there are questions raised here about the professionalism and legal ethics of the lawyer working for City Hall.
Competent officials from the Tbilisi City Hall could not the find time to comments on the situation as of yet. As soon as they wish to share some comments, the Human Rights Center is willing and able publish their opinions so to be shared with a wider audience.
Nona Suvariani, Tbilisi
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