Bulgarian President Asked to Help with BDZ Strike Deadlock

Domestic | December 8, 2011, Thursday // 09:29|  views

The Bulgarian Railways strike started on November 24 and is entering its 15th day Thursday. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The two major syndicates in Bulgaria have requested from outgoing President, Georgi Parvanov, to call the Consultative Council on National Security over the railways strike.

On Wednesday another round of negotiations between the labor unions at the troubled State-owned Railway Company BDZ Holding, the cabinet, and the company' management failed.

The Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, and the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" (Support) announced that there will be a BDZ strike Thursday, for the 15th consecutive day.

All passenger and freight trains in the country will be halted between 8 am and 4 pm. Losses are nearing BGN 2 M.

The Wednesday talks lasted 6 hours, but reached deadlock on the issues of paid leave and social benefits. They will resume at 2 pm Thursday.

The syndicates say the BDZ management had broken promises to keep wages and social benefits under the parameters of the class labor contract signed in 2009 and to introduce on June 1, 2012 a bonus system based on job performance.

Petar Bunev, Chair of the Railways workers syndicates says that the labor unions have agreed on the bonus system, but the management issued a counter-proposal to reduce paid leave and social benefits.

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.

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.

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, but one day earlier it was postponed to February over improper handling of documentation and subpoenas.

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.

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, Georgi Parvanov, Petar Bunev, Consultative Council on National Security


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