Sofia, 22 Nov 2011: Workers of the state-owned Bulgarian railway company BDZ are starting an unlimited strike on Thursday, farmers and healthcare employees follow next week.
(All Images Copyright Johann Brandstatter, JB Photography)
The management of the Bulgaria’s largest employer, unable to deal with a debt of 772 million Leva (€ 395 million), was planning to slash 3,000 jobs out of 13,000. The new CEO of BDZ, Yordan Nedev even talked about firing 5,000 people, but without tackling the real problems of the Bulgarian Railways – mismanagement, corruption, incompetence and nepotism – not even that would get the company back on track (see our article “The End Of The Line For Bulgaria’s State Railways?”)
However, all the talk about cutting thousands of jobs at BDZ finally woke the employees out of their usual lethargy and the strike – announced three weeks ago – will start the day after tomorrow at 8 a.m. From then until 4 p.m. about 150 trains will be affected by the walkout, which will cause widespread disruptions.
Health care workers will support the action by driving by at railway stations with their horns blaring, they will go on strike themselves on 30 November, backed by the two largest trade unions in Bulgaria. Farm workers are planning road blocks on Monday, 28 November, to show their disagreement over plans to raise the retirement age.
Negotiations with the government were unsuccessful so far, so it is expected that the unions will go ahead with their actions. Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has threatened to sack labor minister Totyu Mladenov, should he fail to reach an agreement with the trade unions, but that would not solve anything.
If the last-minute attempts to avoid the industrial action by BDZ employees do not result in a compromise both sides can live with, then train wheels might come to a standstill for some time in Bulgaria.
(Sources: Middle East & Balkans News own research, Standard News; 22 Nov 2011)