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Scandal Disrupts Bulgaria Teachers Talks, No Let Up in Strike

Politics | October 25, 2007, Thursday // 00:00| Views: 2102 | Comments: 9
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Bulgaria: Scandal Disrupts Bulgaria Teachers Talks, No Let Up in Strike After another day of rallying in downtown Sofia, representatives of the striking teachers furiously walked out of talks with the cabinet, aimed at breaking the deadlock. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

After another day of rallying in downtown Sofia, representatives of the striking teachers furiously walked out of talks with the cabinet, aimed at breaking the deadlock over their demands for higher wages.

Unionist leader Yanka Takeva said she was shocked by the development of the talks and accused the cabinet of backing out on an offer that had inspired hopes the gap between the two warring sides may be narrowing.

The first indication of a breakthrough was given on Wednesday, when the two parties agreed on 20% increase in the education workers' wages as of November.

"That means the rise is set up at BGN 88,80 for all people, who work in the education system," syndicate representative explained.

The negotiations continued on Thursday with the unionists still insisting on the 3x20% formula, where the teachers will get a wage hike gradually in three steps, each time with 20%.

The strikers demand also the allowance per student reach BGN 1151 in 2008.

Earlier in the day teachers from across the country took their strike out of towns and cities and blocked the main highway E79, which is part of the International Road Corridor 4.

The highway goes through the whole country starting from the town of Vidin on the Danube, going by Vratza, Pernik, Dragichevo, Dupnitza, Kyustendil, Byala, and ending on the Kulata border check point with the border with Greece.

Meanwhile other squads blocked main crossings in the big cities around Bulgaria, like the capital Sofia, Pleven, Plovdiv, Varna, Russe and Burgas.

The trade unions have called on all regional and professional teachers' structures to join the massive protests.

The striking teachers have addressed the ambassadors of all EU member-states in Bulgaria in a letter that spells out the reasons for the strike as well as their concerns about the fate of the students and the education system in the country.

The statement calls on the ambassadors to use their influence and put pressure on the Bulgarian government.

The strike has brought what is claimed to be the worst education crisis for the last seventeen years, paralysing Bulgaria for five weeks already.
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» To the forumComments (9)
#9
Bloke from Alrewas off the A38 - 29 Oct 2007 // 14:13:21

Hiya, Pope Bo Brady McTrollop of Belfast!

How art thou, Paddy? Been a wild rover for many a year, haven't ya? You ain't no Proddy Dog, are ya? Are you a Fenian? Why not move to glorious Cork?

So, how is life in that good old place far across yonder blue where the sea ripples over the shingle and sand and where the gay honeysuckle is luring the bee!

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a-da, wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o... there's whiskey in the jar, isn't there? Long live that ace lad Phil Lynott!

#8
Alx - 26 Oct 2007 // 17:59:47

Plamene,
are you for real? Do you really think this is how you'll solve the strike? It kind of sounds Maria Antoinette-ish: "Why, if they don't have bread, let them eat cake!" Get your head out of your a** - you can't expect thousands of teachers to find a job at private schools (they already have people working there, you know!). But you keep up with the progressive thinking, perhaps you'll
get to inventing the square wheel next year.

P.S. And yes, they are worth 63% (latest offer from the unions, agreed with the government - next day Valchev & co. pretend like they didn't agree to anything). See who's draggin their feet now?

#7
Alx - 26 Oct 2007 // 17:35:38

Dutchko,
I agree. If some people feel like Bulgaria's politicians have done everything possible to resolve the strike, treated the teachers with dignity and respect and have offered a reasonable way out of the situation, then I guess they can sleep well tonight....

#6
DP - 26 Oct 2007 // 17:33:43

Good analysis, CJB.

If I may add, unions are trying to flex their muscle, to increase their influence in a weak, new democracy just when their strength is wearing down in the developed ones. The more powerful they (the unions) get the more self serving their agenda gets. IMO once they were indispensable and played a positive role in creating a more just society, but they have become somewhat disfunctional and obsolete by now.

#5
CJB - 26 Oct 2007 // 11:13:57

Dutchko,

In fact this has a lot to do with the mindsets of former communists, but you chose the wrong target. It is the unions who are behaving in the old way, more worried about losing face than representing their members' real interests. They expected a coalition headed by the BSP, who most of the teachers probably voted for, to just give them more money, no questions asked. The unions also seem to think that just by making as much of a disturbance as possible they will eventually force the government's hand. Clearly this has not happened, so the teachers are angry.

A very unsophisticated negotiating stance from the unions, which is just doing harm to everyone and solving nothing. While they have a right to hold out for as good a deal as they can get, the teachers need to realise that making a deal might involve them giving some ground also, even compromising in the common interest.

This strike has gone on too long, everyone is fed up with it and the longer it continues, the more the reputation of Bulgaria's educationalists plummets to new depths. It is time to cut a deal, even if it is not everything that was asked for, or requires new working conditions or some redundancies.

#4
buachaill bo - 26 Oct 2007 // 11:05:47

Dutchko,
i think you are spewing it now about the future of bulgaria and so you are proposing that bulgarias future is for everyone to hold the country to ransom?i propose that after the teachers that all shop workers and stall holders go on strike for more money.

#3
pnikolov - 26 Oct 2007 // 10:57:08

I sure hope the government doesn't give up in this farce. If teachers really think they are worth 78% more, why don't they go to privately-run schools and get as much there? It is sad to see that unions are still able to exercise ideological blackmailing at the expense of all Bulgarian taxpayers.

Best wishes,

Plamen Nikolov
PhD student in Economics
Harvard University

#2
Dutchko - 26 Oct 2007 // 08:11:03

At least the teachers are brave enough to stand up against the old communist garbage who still ruling Bulgaria.
Everybody should support them because this is about the future of Bulgaria.

#1
CJB - 26 Oct 2007 // 01:25:52

Hey Novinite! Any details on what the alleged "scandal" is? No, I thought not.

Could it be the unions are playing up the conflict so it lasts until the elections? Oh no, they'd never be so cynical, wouyld they? They are actually interested in a deal, aren't they?

Maybe someone should tell the teachers that negotiating involves more than just saying "ne" to anything that's not your intial demand.

Bulgaria news Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) is unique with being a real time news provider in English that informs its readers about the latest Bulgarian news. The editorial staff also publishes a daily online newspaper "Sofia Morning News." Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency - www.sofianewsagency.com) and Sofia Morning News publish the latest economic, political and cultural news that take place in Bulgaria. Foreign media analysis on Bulgaria and World News in Brief are also part of the web site and the online newspaper. News Bulgaria