Bulgarian Railways Management Downplays Workers' Strike

Business | November 24, 2011, Thursday // 17:10|  views

According to the Bulgarian Transport Ministry, the number of those on strike at BDZ is estimated at 350 or 2.5% of the personnel. Photo by BGNES

According to official data of the management of the State-owned Railway Company BDZ Holding only 8% of the workers from the railroad system are taking part in the Thursday strike.

From a total of 13 000 employees at the National Company Railroad Infrastructure, only 563 (about 4%) have declared they are going to strike with only 61 of them directly related to the train traffic, the Transport Ministry press center informs.

The number of those on strike at BDZ is estimated at 350 or 2.5% of the personnel.

Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, told the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, he believes these low numbers are due to the fact workers were asked by the management to sign against their name if they were going to strike or not, but firmly reiterated no one is going to be fired for taking part in the protests.

A worker at the Rebrovo railroad station is quoted saying that they were not on strike because there wasn't anyone to organize them and voiced disappointment from the syndicates. The Head of the Svoge station had explained that he is an employee of the National Company Railroad Infrastructure and had nothing to do with BDZ because the two companies were artificially separated years ago. He spoke off the record, saying the BDZ strike was organized by 10-20 people and is largely media propaganda. The radio dispatcher at the Central Railroad Station in Sofia told BNR the strike was fake and should not be supported.

The syndicates blamed the management of BDZ and the National Company Railroad Infrastructure in applying "lockout" to the strike and replacing striking workers with others without the needed qualifications.

Meanwhile, the Head of the Railways labor union, Petar Bunev, threatened that the strike will continue Friday and much more workers will take part.

The labor unions vowed 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.

Workers and employees at BDZ confirmed Tuesday they are starting an effective strike on November 24.

The strike had already been scheduled for Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm, but the railway labor unions informed at a special press conference that the strike now will be termless – all trains will be halted every day between those hours.

The management of the company and Moskovski, promised that no one will be fired for taking part in the strike, even though they deem the action illegal. They also say the number of canceled trains had been scaled down to 138.

The workers tell media that they are worried about being laid off because they will have a hard time finding another job in the winter season and in the conditions of crisis.

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Tags: Petar Bunev, National Company Railroad Infrastructure, lockout, BDZ, Strike, Bulgarian State Railways, railway workers, protest, layoffs, layoff, Transport Ministry, Transport Minister, Strike, trade union, BDZ, Bulgarian State Railways, Ivaylo Moskovski, KNSB, railway strike, syndicates, BDZ, trains, state railways, Podkrepa


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