Ten people with disabilities work at Ighdz – a social enterprise of clothes production and color printing founded in August 2014 – which suffers decrease in work capacity because of prejudice.
“Now the enterprise does not operate to the fullest capacity as there are no orders. Though final products meet all the quality standards and prices are lower, people refuse to buy our products because the manufacturers are disabled people. And the deliverymen have to conceal who the workers are,” said Anahit Gevorgyan, Head of the Women’s Community Council of Martuni.
The Media Center hosted Anahit Gevorgyan, Head of the Women’s Community Council of Martuni; Susanna Harutyunyan, employee at Ighdz Social Enterprise, second category of disability; and Liza Ghiasyan, Senior Specialist at the Employment Agency, Ministry of Labor and Social Issues, who spoke on the labor rights of people with disabilities and possible obstacles.
Embroiderer Susanna Harutyunyan said the Government must support enterprises employing people with disabilities in selling the final products since these enterprises cannot operate without selling. Liza Ghiasyan, though, said the Government is not authorized to solve the problems of selling and the manufacturer must take care of selling.
Anahit Gevorgyan agreed that the Government has a scope of rights and liabilities. Still, she believes “the Government may boost production by, for instance, sending orders of color printing to such enterprises.”
Liza Ghiasyan noted Armenia lacks a separate law on social enterprises but people with disabilities enjoy all the rights as other unemployed citizens do.
“Social enterprises and productions are founded within the framework of projects by various international organizations, as in Chambarak and Goris, but the Government does not have any authority or obligation to create an enterprise of this kind,” Liza Ghiasyan said and added there are employment programs people with disabilities may get involved in.
The Workplace Adjustment Program fixes that in 2014 up to 500 thousand drams are allocated to employers if they agree to involve disabled people.
Ghiasyan said public entities with over 100 employees must have three percent of employees with disabilities starting from 2015 and private entities from 2016. People with disabilities may register at employment centers, get engaged in different specialized programs, get recommendations if they show good results and be employed with a minimum salary. If an employer provides jobs to uncompetitive people, they get partial refund of the salary but no more than the lowest salary.
Official statistics says 110 thousand adults out of 197 thousand people with disabilities in Armenia are of working age but only 8-9 percent of them have jobs.