Bulgarian Syndicates Terminate Social Dialogue Involvement

Domestic | November 20, 2011, Sunday // 14:50|  views

KNSB President Plamen Dimitrov has vowed a general strike over outrage against the latest plans of the cabinet involving Bulgaria's retirement reform. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The Podkrepa (Support) Labor Confederation and the Confederation of Independent Bulgarian Syndicates (KNSB) announced Sunday that they are quitting the Three-Way Council with the business and the cabinet.

The two labor unions also set the date of the national mass protest rally in front of the building of the Parliament in downtown Sofia and a protest march for November 30th.

The move of the syndicates to leave the Three-Way Council means an imminent failure in negotiations on all important social and economic issues the Council deals with.

The joint decision, first announced by Podkrepa, stems from outrage against sudden plans of the cabinet to increase retirement age.

Retirement age in Bulgaria will go up by one year for both men and women as early as 2012, Deputy Finance Minister, Vladislav Goranov told the Members of the Parliament Wednesday.

In addition, the retirement reform with gradual increase of retirement age is moved from 2021 to 2015, over the deficit in the budget of the National Social Security Institute (NOI) and economy forecasts, according to Goranov.

Under previous Bulgarian legislation, the retirement age was not to go up until 2021. After that, it was supposed to increase gradually – every 12 months until it reaches 65 for males in 2024 and 63 for females in 2026, compared to the current 63 and 60. The current required years of service are 37 for men and 34 for women.

On Friday, the labor unions threatened the launch of a general strike over the initiative of Finance Minister Simeon Djankov to increase the retirement age unilaterally while disregarding the gradual increase agreement that the government made with the trade unions and the business associations back in 2010. The decision was made during an emergency meeting of the Consultative Council of Podkrepa and KNSB.

The syndicates are further outraged by Djankov's plans to eliminate years of service in determining pay for State servants.

Also on Friday, outgoing Bulgarian President, Georgi Parvanov, stated that he was considering imposing a veto on the cabinet's proposed amendment to up retirement age by one year, effective January 1, 2012.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria's railway unions remain unwavering in their vows to stage a mass strike after the recent announcement of the management of the heavily indebted state-owned railway company BDZ Holding that it intended to lay off 2 000 workers, and reduce the number of trains in operation by 150 by January 2012. In addition, ticket prices along state-subsidized routes will be increased by 9% as of January 1, 2012, and those of "business trains", i.e. the handful of profitable railway routes in Bulgaria – by 15% as December 1, 2011.

The BDZ labor unions reiterated Sunday that the strike is still scheduled for November 24 and it can go on for an undetermined period of time.

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Tags: finance minister, Simeon Djankov, pension reforms, pension reform, retirement reform, retirement system, Retirement age, Labor Confederation, Podkrepa, Plamen Dimitrov, KNSB, trade unions, syndicates, budget 2012, state budget act, 2012 state budget, social policy, Georgi Parvanov, president, reform, draft budget, Retirement age, Strike, syndicates, years of service, Simeon Djankov, Vladislav Goranov, NOI, pensioners, three-way council, BDZ, Strike, protest, rally


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