Bulgarian Syndicates Horrified by New Railways CEO, Fear Covert PrivatizationBusiness | July 11, 2011, Monday // 19:22| views
Pictured: BDZ's new CEO Yordan Nedev (left) and BDZ Board Chair Vladimir Vladimirov (right). The syndicates have described the former as "incompetent" and have demanded the head of the latter. Photo by BGNES
Bulgaria's two major syndicates have resorted to threatening that they might stage an all-out railway strike as they are alarmed by the newly appointed management of the Bulgarian State Railways BDZ.
“All actions of the new management are fully targeted at going around the good agreements in the collective labor contract and robbing the workers of BDZ of their rights,” reads a joint statement issued by the Podkrepa Labor Confederation and the Confederation of Independent Bulgarian Syndicates KNSB.
In March 2011, the Bulgarian government succumbed to pressure from the syndicates who were on the verge of a general railway strike over reforms demanded by the World Bank in exchange for loans of some BGN 600 M that threatened to lead to the layoffs of some 7 000 workers. The tension was settled when the Cabinet agreed to most of their demands.
The latest move of the syndicates, however, is a reaction to the appointment of a new CEO of the vastly troubled Bulgarian State Railways BDZ, Yordan Nedev, who replaced Pencho Popov. The Transport Ministry under its new head Ivaylo Moskovski has also reshuffled the heads of the freight and passenger units of BDZ.
“After the signing of a memorandum of understanding in March 2011 about the development of the Bulgarian railway sector, we were left with moderate optimism... Unfortunately, since June 2011, after the unprecedented management reshuffle, the managers of Holding BDZ EAD have declared intentions for abrupt violation of the labor agreements,” say the alarmed unionists.
They accuse the new management of the state holding of seeking to let the existing collective labor contract expire while obstructing talks for a new one, failing with respect to seeking ways for new investments, and of being “incompetent” and “unaware” of the work of the railways (an obvious reference to Nedev who has no prior experience in the railway business.)
“[These people] create the impression that they were imported into the system in order to bring it to such low levels so that it can be privatized extremely cheaply. The same persons will not only fail to save the railway transport from a crisis, but they will get it into worse situations,” the syndicates warn.
They insist on compliance with all existing agreements, new talks for a collective labor contract, appointment of managers based on competitions and competence, and the resignation of the BDZ Governing Board Chair Vladimir Vladimirov.
According to Podkrepa railway union's head Rozen Zarkov, the dismissed railway managers were among the best produced by BDZ, and they should have been kept within the company rather than being let go altogether.
He has slammed the new management of BDZ for failing to appreciate the problem with the lack of enough railway cars in good condition, leading to a situation in which the “passengers are packed like sardines.”
Last week the newly appointed CEO of the vastly-troubled Bulgarian State Railways BDZ Yordan Nedev declared his intention to get the company to break even in 2012, not in 2014, as his predecessor intended. He also made it clear he was simultaneously overwhelmed by the situation in the railways but also very eager to fix it.
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