Protests of Bulgarian Lead Workers Escalate
Workers of the Lead and Zinc Complex in Kardzhali, the leading Bulgarian non-ferrous metals producer, are rallying once again Thursday with demands to receive their long-delayed salaries.
In the morning the outraged metallurgists will block once again the main local road, connecting the cities of Kardzhali and Haskovo. In the afternoon, they will organize a protest rally and a march, which will be attended and supported by residents of the city, according to the trade unions.
Representatives of the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, at the plant are adamant they will protest until the money gets to the workers' bank accounts. They say that if the salaries are not paid by Friday, April 6, the rally and blockades will be moved to the capital Sofia on April 11, and to the nearest cross border checkpoint.
The Lead and Zinc Complex is owned by Valentin Zahariev, now-former owner of the Gorubso Madan metal mines. Gorubso Madan miners finally received their overdue wages at the end of March, after they had been staging protests for two weeks.
Zahariev announced one week ago that he had been able to secure a loan in the amount of BGN 1.5 M to pay the salaries, but failed to set an exact deadline on grounds he was still seeking collaterals for loan.
KNSB inform that the deal for the concession of the Gorubso Madan metal mines has not yet been finalized, which was the condition to find some funds for salaries and benefits for the Kardzhali workers. The trade unions accuse Zahariev of racketeering the new owners.
It was reported two weeks ago that businessman Nikolay Valkanov will be taking over the concession of the Gorubso Madan metal mines from Valentin Zahariev. Valkanov is a former VP of Multigroup, and currently owns "Minstroy" and Gorubso Zlatograd and has a concession of the "Varba" mine.
According to Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, in the case with the Kardzhali plant, the State has no useful mechanism to pressure Zahariev, because the plant is not a State-granted concession. He, however, promised that the government will apply all effort to assist in finding a solution for the problem.
The Minister says that as it was in Madan, poor management is to be blamed for the overdue wages of the workers at the Kardzhali plant.
The Prosecutor's Office has launched a probe against Zahariev.
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