Strike at Bulgarian Maritsa Iztok Mines Enters Day 2
The effective strike of miners at Bulgaria's State-owned Maritsa Iztok Mines is continuing Monday, after being launched at 8 pm Sunday evening.
The joint Strike Committee of Bulgaria's two main labor unions – the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, and Podkrepa Labor Confederation (Support) reported Monday morning that 93% of miners from the night shift – 603 from a total of 652 – went on strike.
The effective strike, announced Sunday, is taking place in all three coal mines.
On Saturday the miners launched a symbolic protest, warning that effective strike was in store, after talks failed Friday - workers just signed upon going to work that they support the future strike and are against what they have labeled "the irresponsible behavior of the company's management."
The main subject of argument is a better payment, and in particular a request for a cash bonus workers were promised in the summer.
The argument between the management of Maritsa Iztok Mines AD and the syndicates at the state-owned company has been going on for a month, but the talks have failed to bring a resolution.
The trade unions insist that the employer comply with the agreement signed on July 12, 2011 regulating the relative share of the wage costs in relation to the company's revenues.
They claim the Maritsa Iztok CEO, Evgeni Stoykov had withdrawn his signature from the document despite the anticipated BGN 500 M in revenues of the company, thereby leaving the miners without year-end bonuses.
Damages from the strike are estimated at BGN 2-3 M a day over not extracted coal and failure to fulfill contracts with the Thermal Power Plants.
Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, vowed Sunday that staged interruptions of electric power supply would not be imposed over the strike, but warned it could lead to a hike of prices, along with a possible bankruptcy of the company. He reiterated that the claims of the labor unions are groundless and nothing had been written on paper.
The Minister stressed that the class labor contract of miners did not include bonuses and for this reason the management had increased the salaries' fund. He advised the syndicates in the mines to begin negotiations to change the contract.
Traikov showed for the TV camera a chart indicating that in the last 14 years, the increase of wages in the company was 475%, while the increase of productivity, during the same period, was 73%,
Also on Sunday, Stoykov issued a special address to miners, alerting them that their planned effective strike is illegal.
In the declaration, he states that he is valuing highly the effort to execute and exceed production tasks for 2011, stressing that during talks with the labor unions, the management of the mines had voiced readiness to pay additional compensations to those directly involved in production,
Stoykov says that for the fourth quarter of 2011, 10.35% in compensations, calculated in the base of the net quarterly wage, will be paid with the December salary, insisting that it is impossible for the company to fulfill any additional requests, warning this would lead to an aggravated financial and economic situation. He assures the management had applied all effort to declare good intentions and is ready to continue negotiations.
"I am convinced that you all know that the legality of the planned strike is doubtful, and is being challenged in Court. If the latter declares the strike illegal, all participants will endure disciplinary and monetary responsibility. According to the law, at times of strike, the employer does not pay wages. I appeal to your common sense to manage, through joint effort, to resolve the issue, without threatening the future of the Maritsa Iztok mines," the declaration concludes.
Bulgaria's PM Boyko Borisov sided with the company's governing body, falsely claiming that the miners were better paid than the Finance Minister.
Traikov noted that he appreciated the work of the miners, who had doubled the output of the company, but added that the 15% pay rise they had been given had been an adequate reward.
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