Underground Protest at Bulgaria's Bobov Dol Mines Continues
Miners from Babino pit, at the Bobov Dol mines in Bulgaria, continue their protest action on Wednesday as their talks with the management and trade union have failed, the public broadcaster has said.
Around 10:00 local time, it was announced that the owner, controversial entrepreneur Hristo Kovachki had abandoned plans to close the mine, withdrew his statement to the Energy Ministry sent on Tuesday.
Staging an underground sit-in, more than 110 miners spent the night under the ground, demanding all their salaries since August and unpaid food vouchers, but also calling for clarity about the future of the pit which is facing closedown. Vagledobiv Bobov Dol EOOD, their employer, owes workers tens of thousands worth of food vouchers.
"I have only received BGN 300 [EUR 150] half of my salary for August," one of the miners told a NOVA TV reporter. Other argue they have only been paid BGN 100 each month for much of this year.
Some 1800 people work in the Bobov Dol mine, owned by Kovachki, 700 of these are at Babino.
Six hundred and fifty of them are to be laid off before the planned closedown of Babino, under a decision of the owner announced last week.
But the mine's management has also asserted remuneration will be paid regularly and vouchers will be handed out according to schedule.
On Tuesday evening, medical teams arrived underground to assist workers, some of whom had spent more than 12 hours underground.
Meanwhile the Bulgarian Energy Minister, Temenuzhka Petkova, made clear she could not interfere with the work of Kovachki's company after granting concession on the mines in 2007.
"These are relations regulated entirely between the worker and the employer," BGNES wire service quotes her as saying.
Labour Minister Zornitsa Rusinova also commented, assuring the company had been imposed a fine for delaying payment.
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