Tough Talks Resume on Day 19 of Bulgarian Railway Strike

Society | December 12, 2011, Monday // 08:21|  views

Bulgarian labor unions are staging a mass strike after recent announcement of the management of the state-owned railway company BDZ that it intended to lay off 2 000 workers by January 2011. Photo by BGNES

The negotiations between the management of the troubled State-owned railways company BDZ Holding and the syndicates on the effective strike are resuming Monday.

The weekend was marked by disputes if the strike is legal or not.

The BDZ management wants to stop another 166 trains to prevent further losses, which until now are estimated at the staggering BGM 2.5 M, while the company has a debt of BGN 800 M. The TV channel bTV informs that the halting of the 166 trains is now postponed for Wednesday.

A new train schedule became effective at midnight Saturday into Sunday and turned into grounds for the BDZ management to declare the strike illegal and threaten the striking workers with firings.

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.

Railroad stations across Bulgaria met the day Monday with an open letter from the management, posted on walls and windows, declaring the strike illegal and warning about dismissals.

The syndicates reacted immediately with a letter to the President, the Prime Minister and the Chief Prosecutor, insisting on guarantees for the constitutional right of Bulgarians and the 26 000 employees of BDZ and the National Company Railways Infrastructure to strike.

The syndicates are firm the strike will continue Monday, which is the 19th day of the protests, and say the management is threatening workers in violation of the law, without a Court decision on the legality of the strike. They stress the only way to resolve the issue is to sit on the negotiations table and not by manipulating people.

Chaos was reported in railroad stations Sunday over the strike both for passengers and workers, with a large number of drivers, even those who did not strike, being strapped in their engines.

The BDZ Freight Transport and BDZ Passenger Transport did file 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.

Initially, 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 November 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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