Thousands Rally Against Planned Pension Reform Amid Farmers’ Road Blockades, Railway Strike

Thousands Rally Against Planned Pension Reform Amid Farmers’ Road Blockades, Railway Strike

More than 20,000 Bulgarians gathered in front of parliament on Wednesday in protest against proposed changes in the pension system, the Bulgarian News Agency (BTA) reported.

The protest, which was staged to coincide with a meeting of the parliamentary budgetary committee, was organised by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and Confederation of Labour Podkrepa.

The trade unions threatened with a general strike unless the government revisits its plans to increase retirement age and scrap seniority bonuses.

In the meantime, a strike in state-owned railways BDZ continued for a ninth day after the trade unions and BDZ's management failed to reach an agreement at a meeting Wednesday. CITUB Vice President Valentin Nikiforov told the state-run Bulgarian National Radio that the trade unions plan to approach the European Court of Human Rights about BDZ's decision to cancel another 30 trains because of the ongoing strike.

Grain producers' protests too entered their third day with road blockades in several parts of the country. Dozens of trucks and four buses blocked the main road E79 near the northwestern town of Vratsa, BTA reported. A meeting between Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, Agricultural Minister Miroslav Naydenov and the protesters which lasted an hour and a half failed to produce any result.

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