Thursday, December 15, 2011

Rail Freight Services Restored After Agreement Reached with Unions

Strife for Passengers Likely to Continue
Shipping News Feature

BULGARIA – The strike which brought the country’s freight rail services to a standstill has ended after a pay and conditions agreement was negotiated between the state owned company and transport unions. Details of the collective bargaining agreement were released yesterday and it will come into place in the middle of next year and is effective for two years. The agreement should mean the restoration of cargo services on the tracks.

A BDZ Holding spokesman said as employers they were happy with the deal as were the unions and terms were much the same as the previous agreement except for a new bonus package related to performance. The loss making company had announced in November that it needed to make 2,000 redundancies and cut the number of locomotives with effect from next month. The company’s website also has details of almost 1,000 rail wagons it wishes to sell along with some property holdings it is disposing of. Meanwhile it is believed that the passenger services, which are managed under a separate agreement, will continue to be affected by stoppages.

So far over 1,000 staff have accepted voluntary redundancy reportedly in exchange for six months wages. BDZ is heavily in debt and has recently negated strike action simply by cancelling services in advance of stoppages. The company has maintained throughout that the strike is illegal and announced five days ago that workers who failed to return to work within fifteen working days would have their employment contracts terminated.

Photo: Passenger services remain disrupted whilst the dispute still continues.