Sofia, 25 Nov 2011: Bulgarian railway workers went on strike today for the second day in a row, effectively bringing all trains to a stand-still during daytime.
Trade unions announced that the strike will continue indefinitely until a compromise over the planned lay-off of 3,000 employees is reached.
Today again trains on 150 lines in the country stood still between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. The walkout also affected a number of international trains, travellers on the Istanbul-Belgrade Express had to wait in Plovdiv, some 150 kilometers southeast of Sofia, until evening before they could continue their trip.
Rallies were held in a number of cities but in many smaller railway stations the staff simply stayed at home. At the few stations that were opened, travellers could not buy tickets.
The trade union Podkrepa has already announced that railway workers will continue their actions until a compromise is found with the management of the state railway company BDZ. Early next year BDZ plans to slash 3,000 jobs – 23 percent of its work force – and cancel 150 trains nationwide to tackle the massive debt of 772 million Leva (about € 395 million).
The CEO of BDZ Yordan Nedev showed up at the rally at Sofia Central Station and was quickly surrounded by desperate looking workers voicing their disappointment. Nedev, however, had nothing new to tell his employees and disappeared again after an hour or so.
About 100 demonstrators, some of them in the light-blue colours of Podkrepa, were surrounded by a massive police presence, but the rally was quiet and peaceful.
Despite all the threats and announcements of government and railway management, it looks like the trains in Bulgaria will take a break during daytime for some time to come.
Find more images from the railway worker’s rally in Sofia at JB Photography.