Bulgarian Coal Miners End Strike

Bulgarian Coal Miners End Strike

Miners at Bulgaria's largest coal mining complex, the Maritsa East Mines, ended on Sunday a week-long strike that had led to a halt in electricity exports.

"After 16 hours of negotiations between the strike committee and Maritsa East Mines CEO Evgeniy Stoikov, which began on January 21, an agreement was reached at 6 a.m. on January 22 that satisfies the just demands of the protesting workers and employees and settles the collective labour dispute, putting an end to effective strike action in the company," the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria said in a statement published on its website.

A total of 2.13 million levs ($1.4 million/1.08 million euro) will be distributed equally among the workers at the Maritsa East Mines after the mines make up for the halt in production, the statement said.

In 2012, the mines will invest 22 million levs more than a year earlier, it added.

The trade unions at the mining complex launched the strike last weekend with demands that each worker get a 1,000 lev bonus as the mines' annual output last year exceeded plans by 6.0 million tonnes.

The mines restarted work at 0800 local time on Sunday, the state-run Bulgarian National Television (BNT) reported.

However, it is still unclear when power export will resume.

Power exports will be launched again only after coal supplies to the power plants within the Maritsa East basin reach the levels required for their operation at optimal capacity, BNT said.

To avoid power shortages due to the strike at the mines, which are the main source of coal for three thermal power plants in the country, Bulgaria halted electricity exports on Friday. The Southeast European country exports electricity to its neighbours Romania, Serbia, Macedonia, Greece and Turkey.

Power exports will resume as soon as the fuel stockpiles of thermal power plants Brikel, Maritsa East 2, Contour Global Maritsa East 3 and AES - 3C Maritsa East 1 return to the levels required by the relevant regulations, the energy ministry said in a statement on Friday.

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