Police Officers Block Traffic in Sofia to Protest Planned Pay Cuts
Police officers blocked traffic in the central part of Sofia on Tuesday to protest cuts in their remuneration packages planned in the 2016 budget draft.
The Finance Ministry is proposing to cut in half the sum paid upon retirement, decrease the extra remuneration allocated for each year in service and cut the period of annual paid leave.
The Interior Ministry spends on payments to staff 95% of its budget, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said, defending his plan to cut this type of spending by some BGN 25 M next year to improve working conditions for police officers and buy new equipment.
Interior Ministry Chief Secretary Georgi Kostov and the head of Sofia Interior Ministry Directorate Mladen Marinov called on protesting police officers to disperse as Sofia municipal authorities had issued no permit for the protest action.
The protesters, however, ignored the call and marched from the Finance Ministry building to the Sofia University Rectorate, completely blocking car traffic on Tsar Osvoboditel Boulevard and the road to Plovdiv.
Meanwhile, police officers in Haskovo, in southeastern Bulgaria, blocked traffic on Maritsa motorway leading to the border with Turkey for about half an hour on Tuesday afternoon to demand that the Finance Ministry withdraw the proposed pay cuts. Employees of the Firefighting Service on Haskovo and the nearby town of Dimitrovgrad joined the protest action of police officers.
The proposed spending cuts had been surprisingly made part of the 2016 budget draft shortly before the document was submitted for approval to the government. Similar cuts in payments to staff are planned for armed forces officers as part of the 2016 budget draft.
The cabinet endorsed the document on Friday.
Police force protests were alos held in the cities of Ruse, Veliko Tarnovo, Burgas, Kardzhali and Plovdiv on Tuesday. Traffic to Sofia on Trakia motorway was blocked near Gelemenovo junction by protesting police officers from the nearby city of Pazardzhik.
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