BTA News

Bulgaria’s Largest Trade Unions Organize Labour Day Initiatives

The two largest trade unions in Bulgaria, the Podkrepa (Support) Confederation of Labour and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), marked Labour Day with various initiatives. Their events focus on the rights of working Bulgarians and draw attention to the measures they believe are needed to improve working conditions. Podkrepa is organizing a festive procession and a rock concert in Sofia, while CITUB will launch an information campaign entitled “I know my labour rights”.

Trade union initiatives

The day will be marked under the slogan “Jobs, wages and security”, Podkrepa Vice President Ioannis Parteniotis told BTA. A procession in the capital began at 11:00 am from St. Nedelya Square, passed through Vitosha Blvd., the National Palace of Culture, the Lovers’ Bridge ended in the South Park behind the Earth and Man National Museum, where a concert entitled “Rock for Labour” took place. The procession was led by the brass band of the First English School in Sofia, followed by a children’s troupe from the capital’s Children’s Palace, Parteniotis said. The concert will last over nine hours and will feature more than 15 rock bands.

CITUB Vice President Todor Kapitanov told BTA that with theoretical and video materials, in clear language, CITUB will unfold its campaign for Bulgarians’ labour rights. It will discuss the most important matters not only on May 1 but throughout the whole month, he said. CITUB will use social and digital platforms to reach more people, especially young people, for easier access to labour-law consultations when needed. For this purpose, in May CITUB will also launch its podcast featuring lawyers and economists who will look at various alerts and give advice to people on what to do in case of a workplace issue. The CITUB regional structures will hold various activities such as forums, and open receptions, among others, Kapitanov added.

Closer to young workers on Labour Day

Kapitanov and Parteniotis expressed the opinion that Labour Day is an occasion for more young people to learn about their labour rights. According to them, May 1 is a holiday that reminds people of the struggles for better working conditions, such as the eight-hour day, the five-day work week, insurance, the right to paid leave, sick days, and maternity leave, among others. According to the vice presidents of both unions, these things should not be taken for granted.

More security for workers

It turns out that an average of five violations are found per inspection by the control authorities, Todor Kapitanov said. Every day CITUB receives alerts related to violations of labour legislation of all kinds – from health and safety at work to compliance with working hours, he said. According to him, the Labour Code is the most violated legislation in Bulgaria.

Both trade union vice presidents noted the relevance and need to follow the EU directive on adequate minimum wages and the promotion of collective labour agreements.

Parteniotis referred to amendments to the Labour Code, which set a new mechanism for determining the minimum wage. In his words, while the business sector believes that with the mechanism “the philosophy of social dialogue is lost accordingly” and another option should be sought, “related to labour productivity”, the trade unions are of the opinion that there should be such a change in this algorithm to show that “this minimum wage rate is adequate”. The cost of living should weigh in determining the minimum wage, he added.