Mass Strike Stops Trains in Bulgaria, Passengers Stranded

Mass Strike Stops Trains in Bulgaria, Passengers Stranded

Bulgaria's railroad workers from the heavily-indebted BDZ company are going on an effective strike Thursday, bringing to a halt more than 200 trains across the country.

Bulgaria's railway trade unions decided to stage a mass strike after the early November announcement of BDZ management that it intended to lay off 2 000 workers, and reduce the number of trains in operation by 150 by January 2012. If this happens all while train fares would go up between 9% and 15%.

The strike is scheduled for Thursday from 8 am to 4 pm, but the railway labor unions have made it clear the strike in fact will be termless - all trains will be halted every day between those hours.

Hundreds of passengers may be left stranded since the company has said it has no resources to secure the 540 buses, which will be needed for transportation during the strike. Fares paid by those passengers, who will be blocked, are going to be reimbursed.

BDZ management has declared the strike illegal and vowed to count by name those who take part in it.

The Chief Legal Advisor of Freight Transport at BDZ, Vanya Florova, stated that the mandatory requirement for signing an agreement for satisfactory transport services, at least three days before the strike, had not been adhered to.

The Chair of the BDZ Board of Directors, Vladimir Vladimirov, has made it clear the management is unwavering about implementing the planned reforms. He said the strike will cost BGN 600 000 a day, which would further sink the company.

BDZ has a debt of BGN 800 M and has become the subject of an investigation by the European Commission./Source: Sofia News Agency/

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