The industrial relations observatory EIRO reports on a meeting earlier this year which discussed the situation for emergency service workers in Bulgaria. Organisations representing the police, firefighters and other emergency staff are facing difficult conditions with not enough staff because of budget cuts and pressure to work excessive hours. Read more at > EIRO
Despite the problems of restructuring, large-scale job cuts and declining union membership, a report from EIRO suggests that unions in the health sector have managed to make progress in collective bargaining. A new collective bargaining round is underway over new two-year agreements. In the recent years the unions have won improvements in working hours and ensured that issues like violence and stress are covered in the collective agreements. Read more at >EIRO
Changes to hospital funding threaten to cut doctors' and nurses' pay by up to a half in some institutions. The Podkrepa trade union backed protests against the changes and is calling for a doubling of health care funding to take it from 4.4% of GDP to 8.8%. Read more at > Sofia Echo news agency
Affiliates of the CITUB federation organised a national demonstration at the end of May in protest at low pay and restrictions on the right to strike. The demonstration was targeted in particular at the government and employers in the health, energy, local transport and telecommunications sectors. Read more at > EPSU
The Committee of Social Rights of the Council of Europe has condemned the Bulgarian government for not respecting the right to strike for civil servants and other groups of public service workers such as in electricity and health care. The verdict came after the ETUC and the Bulgarian confederations CITUB and Podkrepa brought a case before the Committee in 2005. Read more at > ETUC (EN) And at > ETUC (FR)
Health workers in Bulgaria successfully negotiated a new collective agreement on 4 June that increases their salaries by 90 to 100 per cent. The signing of the agreement comes before the discussions on the 2009 Budget, and after the mass strikes of 2007 in the education and health care sectors. The increase will take effect on 1 July, and will cover hospitals in state and municipal ownership, as well as hospitals operating as joint stock-holdings. The agreement is the first in a series of steps aimed at bringing the salaries of Bulgarian workforce into line with those in the European Union in
The CITUB trade union confederation organised a national demonstration in Sofia on 16 June in protest at the government’s failure to protect the poor, low-paid and unemployed in the current crisis. Workers from across the public and private sectors joined the demonstration. Unions have also criticised government plans to freeze public sector pay instead of implementing an agreed 10% pay increase. Read more at > Reuters (EN)
The government has said that discussions over increasing the pension age to 65 from 63 for men and from 60 for women have been suspended. The government says that the economic situation means that its priorities now are focused on the labour market and health reform. Read more at > Novinite news website (EN)
Pressure to reduce public spending has led the government to call for 10% cuts across ministries and publicly funded organisations. This could mean pay freezes or job cuts, although some ministries appear to be excluded from the imposition of a pay freeze. There are also demands to reduce high salaries in some departments and agencies. Read more at > Sofia Echo (EN)
The Federation of Trade Unions in Health Services (FTU-HS) organized a roundtable last month with the Bulgarian Association of Health Professionals (BAHP) to discuss how to tackle violence against healthworkers. The trade unionists and professionals were joined by government representatives. A study by the FTU-HS found 7.5% of health workers had been victims of violence with nurses making up the biggest group. The union said it would establish a committee with the BAHP involving also the Bulgarian Medical Association and patients’ organisation to look at ways of tackling violence.
Last year, after threats of industrial action, trade unions managed to negotiate changes to the government’s plans for pension reforms. Retirement ages and the number of years of contributions required for a full pension are being introduced but over several years and not coming fully into effect until 2020 and 2021. Read more at > Sofia Echo news website (EN)
A new national collective labour agreement in the healthcare sector was signed last month by the Minister of Health, trade unions and employer organisations. The agreement is a result of lengthy negotiations in the Sectoral Council for Tripartite Cooperation in Healthcare and applies to all health facilities. The agreement protects existing social benefits and provides for an increase in monthly salaries of between 10% and 20%. Employees who work on on-call receive increases in their hourly payments and the payment for night shift work is doubled. The agreement is backdated to 1 July 2012.
Thousands of trade unionists joined a demonstration in Sofia on 20 November to protest over government policies, including specific calls for higher pay and protection of labour rights. Health workers from EPSU's FTU-HS affiliate were among those supporting the protest, calling in particular for a 20% pay rise for the sector. Read more at > EPSU
Members of the PK Admin trade union employed by the Social Assistance Agency took strike action on 9 July in support of demands for a 20% pay increase and improvements to other working conditions. The union argues that many workers in the Agency are paid close to the minimum wage and on average much below workers in other government departments. The union will consider further action if the government doesn't come up with an appropriate offer. [Read more at > mediapool news website (BG)->http://www.mediapool.bg/sotsialnite-rabotnitsi-obmislyat-bezsrochna-stachka-ili-masovo-napuskane-ako-ne-im