Negotiations Resume on Day 13 of Bulgaria's Railways Strike

Business | December 6, 2011, Tuesday // 12:03|  views

The Bulgarian Railways strike started on November 24 and is in its 13th day. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

Negotiations on bringing an end to the workers strike at the troubled State-owned Railway Company BDZ Holding are resuming Tuesday as the strike entered its 13th day.

Passenger and freight trains will be, once again, halted between 8 am and 4 pm.

Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, is joining the talks.

Over the weekend, the BDZ labor unions declared they will negotiate only in the presence of the Transport Minister, after bringing to a standstill on Sunday those with the BDZ management. They say they do not trust the latter over a number of things such as them not having any idea about railways transportation and accuse them of lies and deceit.

The negotiations with Moskovski were supposed to begin Monday, but were later postponed so that the Minister could meet with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, for the two to iron out details on agreements reached so far.

The syndicates see the delay as an attempt to lead the railways to bankruptcy in order to sell Freight Transportation to an investor, already decided on by the cabinet; lay off workers from the remaining structures and create new ones.

The strike was announced as termless. The labor unions are adamant the strike will continue until an agreement is reached with the BDZ management. They demand the signing of a class labor contract under the same parameters as before the announced start of the reform.

The syndicates blame 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. They are appealing to more workers to join the strike.

Last Monday, BDZ Freight Transport and BDZ Passenger Transport filed a Court claim to declare the strike illegal. On Sunday, the Sofia City Court announced that the trial in the civil case filed by the management has been launched.

The management of the company and Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, promised that no one will be fired for taking part in the strike, even though they deem the action illegal.

The labor unions vowed to stage an effective,  mass, termless strike after the recent notice 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 (later scaled down to 138) 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 strike began on November 24.

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Tags: Simeon Djankov, 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, collective bargaining, class labor contract


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