Bulgarian State Railway Co Messes Up Workers' Strike
The situation with the general strike at the Bulgarian State Railways BDZ, which has been going on for 21 days, has descended into a messy state.
In a statement Wednesday, the BDZ management claimed the strike had collapsed, with only 17 workers striking in the entire country, after earlier this week it decided to terminate the operation of 166 trains scheduled to run daily between 8 am and 4 pm – the daily period of the strike – as of Wednesday, December 14, 2011, until January 5, 2012.
The BDZ management said it was terminating the operation of the trains because the ones traveling have no passengers which is sinking the company even further. However, on Wednesday, it said it was considering restoring the operation of the trains in the 8 am – 4 pm interval.
The syndicates have been quick to blame the management of a strike "lockout", with union leader Petar Bunev saying that the striking committees across the country are still discussing how to react, and whether they would resume their strike once the BDZ management starts running the respective trains again.
"Where can we strike right now – they have terminated the operation of the trains," Bunev asked, cited by BGNES.
BDZ keeps claiming that the strike is illegal because of the new train schedule that entered into force as of December 11,
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.
The labor unions are adamant the strike will continue until an agreement is reached with the BDZ management. They demand the signing of a class labor contract under the same parameters as before the announced start of the reform.
The syndicates and the striking workers also demand the resignations of BDZ CEO Yordan Nedev and Vladimir Vladimirov, Chair of the Board of Directors of BDZ Holding.
The BDZ Freight Transport and BDZ Passenger Transport have filed 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.
The labor unions have vowed to stage an effective, mass, termless strike after the recent 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.
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