14 March, 2002Over 22,000 workers are expected to join the march for decent jobs and wages.
BULGARIA: The metalworkers' union "Metalicy", an IMF affiliate, is organising along with other trade unions a nationwide protest throughout Bulgaria on Friday, March 22, to demand improved protection of workers' rights to decent jobs and wages. The annual march is taking place this year against a backdrop of high and growing unemployment, increasing poverty, corruption and crime. Although the union supports in general the process to change the country's political and economic system, it says that the model chosen by the Bulgarian government has caused too much difficulty for the workers. According to "Metalicy", social dialogue is non-existent. Tripartite partnership mechanisms are not functioning, and social partners are not being consulted on important decisions such as the case now with price increases for electricity, heating, transportation and communication services. In addition to high unemployment, there is the widespread presence of a shadow economy, a low level of living standards and a shrinking internal market. Also, significant credit restrictions, numerous bureaucratic obstacles and major increases in patent taxes are causing particularly serious problems for small and medium-size companies. The IMF wishes to express its solidarity with "Metalicy" and the nationwide trade union protest and with the justified demands of the Bulgarian trade unions. Over 22,000 participants are expected to join the march.