Top Bulgarian Military Plant VMZ Sopot Fires Scores of WorkersIndustry | February 16, 2010, Tuesday // 20:50| views
The heavily indebted state-owned factory VMZ Sopot faces bankruptcy. Photo by vmz.bg
Scores of workers have been fired from one of Bulgaria’s largest military plants, VMZ Sopot, for their protest over unpaid salaries.
The news was reported Tuesday by the TV channel bTV.
Hundreds of VMZ Sopot workers went on strike just before the Christmas Holiday because they did not receive salaries for three months as the heavily indebted state-owned factory faces bankruptcy. They complained that they didn’t even have enough money to send their kids to school anymore and were unable to repay their loans.
The TV report informs that the workers were first fired and later the layoff was listed as discharge over mutual agreement. The discharge allows those released from their job to register with the Labor Bureaus and receive unemployment benefits.
The plant's Director, Ivan Stoenchev, told bTV that the overdue salaries would be paid as quickly as possible. He denies information that there have been mass layoffs, saying several workers were dissimissed, according to the recommendations of their direct supervisors.
Stoenchev points out he could sue the employees for missed profits over the delay of a weapons order caused by the protests, adding he decided to not go ahead with legal action.
The VMZ Sopot plant employs 3 700 workers. It is located in the town of Sopot in central Bulgaria, which is the birthplace of Bulgarian writer and poet Ivan Vazov. The plant was founded in 1936, and during the communist period was developed into a large-scale military industrial unit.
VMZ Sopot has been in a troubled financial condition in the last few years. In 2007, Bulgaria's Privatization Agency started to sell of the plant's assets in order to cover part of its debts; some of its assets were also sold at the beginning of 2009.
Over the years, several governments failed to decide on a strategy to privatize VMZ Sopot, and the Privatization Agency is said be expecting a solution from the GERB government and the new Parliament dominated by them.
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