Bulgarian Railways Board Halts Trains, Declares Strike Illegal

Business | December 11, 2011, Sunday // 10:09|  views

The Bulgarian Railways strike started on November 24 and is entering its 18th day Sunday. Photo by Sofia Photo Agency

The new train schedule in Bulgaria is effective Sunday, December 11, and it makes the strike at the indebted State-owned railways BDZ Holding illegal, the BDZ management announced.

During the week, the management warned it will stop on their own all trains in the country between 8 am and 4 pm because the ones traveling have no passengers which is sinking the company even further. The syndicates blame the management of strike "lockout."

The Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, and the Confederation of Labor "Podkrepa" (Support) announced that there will be a BDZ strike Sunday, for the 18th consecutive day. Trains will be halted between 8 am and 4 pm. The syndicates insist that the strike is legal and will remain such. According to their data, 154 trains out of 222 did not travel Saturday.

The BDZ management says the arbitrary decisions of the strike committees and striking workers, deemed by the latter agreements for transport services of the population in times of strike, are made and issued on the base of the old schedule. With the new one, these decisions are ineffective and any strike actions from Sunday on would not be based on any agreements.

The move comes after the break-down in Thursday's talks between trade unions and employers in the BDZ that did not lead to any constructive solutions and paved the way for more strikes.

The two major syndicates also requested from outgoing President, Georgi Parvanov, to convene the Consultative Council on National Security over the railways strike, saying the company is a factor in the national security.

On Wednesday, the BDZ governing body proposed changes to the collective labor contract from 2009, but the only proposal accepted by the striking workers was the new bonus system set to be launched in 2012.

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 and the striking workers also demand the resignations of BDZ CEO Yordan Nedev and Vladimir Vladimirov, Chair of the Board of Directors of BDZ Holding.

The BDZ Freight Transport and BDZ Passenger Transport have filed a Court claim to declare the strike illegal. Last Sunday, the Sofia City Court announced that the trial in the civil case filed by the management has been launched, but it was postponed to February during the week 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 have 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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