Monday, December 5, 2011

Rail Workers on Hunger Strike as Passenger and Freight Services Halted

No Resolution to State Owned Railways Problems
Shipping News Feature

BULGARIA – The threatened strike by the country’s rail labour unions mentioned in our piece a couple of weeks ago has moved to a new phase with the news yesterday that two workers have gone on hunger strike in a protest about proposed redundancies. The day after our article, 24th November, workers began action stopping passenger and rail freight and yesterday the dispute escalated after talks between management and unions went on late on Saturday before collapsing.

The strike has been declared illegal by the Government but Transport Minister, Ivaylo Moskovski, has vowed nobody will be dismissed for their actions. The state owned railroad group BDZ Holdings, has been forced to raise fares and introduce austerity measures, including the proposed 2,000 redundancies plus withdrawing 138 trains from service, following revelations that it was heavily in debt.

The latest news that the two men have stopped eating and the declaration by union bosses that the strike will go on ‘indefinitely’ has produced a mood of pessimism following a week when the dispute was widely expected to be resolved.