Metallurgy Workers in Bulgaria's Kardzhali Start Strike over Salary Cuts

Industry | July 29, 2009, Wednesday // 13:04|  views

About half of the Lead and Zinc Factory workers went out on strike on Wednesday. Photo by BGNES

About 300 workers in the Lead and Zinc Plant in Bulgaria's Kardzhali started a spontaneous strike on Wednesday.

The workers stopped work, and told the management they would not resume their activities until they got their delayed salaries, BGNES reported.

The metallurgical workers have been disgruntled since last week when the management announced a plan to reduce their salaries by 20-30%.

The factory CEO, Slaveya Stoyanova, claims the system included the introduction of production quotas, and promised additional payments to those workers who exceeded their quotas.

The factory also introduces minimum production requirements of 1 900 tons for the Zinc plant and 2 000 tons for the Lead plant per month.
She also said the July production fell down to 1 400 tons in total, which lead to the new anti-crisis program.

The protesting workers said they had not been receiving their salaries regularly since October 2008, and disproved the managers' statement that the average salary was BGN 665; a machine engineer said his net salary was BGN 320.

The workers are worried that the owner of the Lead and Zinc Factory wanted to "destroy it as he did with the steel mill Kremikovtzi". The owner of the Lead and Zinc Factory is Intertrust Holding chaired by Valentin Zahariev.

BGNES reminds that in 1999 the Kostov government sold the steel mill Kremikovtzi to Zahariev for a token BGN 1 together with its debt. In 2005, Zahariev sold the plant to Indian billionaire Pramod Mittal for between EUR 100 M and EUR 200 M; three years later the largest Bulgarian steel maker was declared insolvent.

In 2008, the Polish Magazine Wprost ranked Zahariev as the third richest Bulgarian with a fortune of USD 680 M.

The Lead and Zinc Factory is the largest employer in the Kardzhali District with over 700 workers.

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Tags: Kardzhali, Lead and Zinc Factory, Kremikovtzi, Valentin Zahariev, Strike, Global Financial Crisis, salary, salary cut, delayed salaries, factory, workers protest


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