Bulgaria's Prolonged Railways Strike Comes to End
The collective bargaining agreement between the management of the troubled State-owned Railways BDZ Holding and the syndicate will be signed, bringing an end to the prolonged strike.
The news was reported Saturday by the BDZ press center.
Тhe decision to sign the agreement between BDZ Passenger Services and the syndicates had been made after long negotiations, and after debating and approving all disputed issues between the two parties.
The Chair of the railways branch of the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, Petar Bunev, announced that the strike committees had also made the decision to stop actions, effective Saturday, despite the fact the agreement had not yet be signed. He, however, warned that if the agreement is not signed, and if the BDZ management veers in the direction of reducing wages, the protests will resume after the holidays.
The strike lasted 23 days and began on November 24. The losses for BDZ are estimated at BGN 2 M all while the company owes BGN 800 in debt.
Bunev explained that the committees no longer see any reasons to continue the strike over their realization that nothing more could be achieved and the situation can worsen further. He apologized to all stranded passengers.
The BDZ management reported Friday that out of 244 scheduled trains just 35 were stopped due to the strike. The labor unions listed the number of the latter at 60. The two parties further differed on the number of striking workers – 20, according to BDZ, and 100, according to the syndicates.
Also on Friday, the syndicates at one of the two state railway companies - "National Company Railway Infrastructure" - decided to terminate their general strike.
BDZ claimed earlier that the strike was illegal because of the new train schedule that entered into force as of December 11, 2011.
The BDZ management said 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 staged an effective, mass, termless strike after the early November 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.
Meanwhile, nearly 1 000 workers have agreed to leave on their own in exchange of 6 monthly salaries.
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