Bulgaria: Proposed electricity price rise sparks protest from both sides of industry

Planned rises in electricity prices have drawn heated objections from employer organisations and trade unions and have led to large demonstrations.

Plans by the Commission for Electricity and Water Regulation (KEVR) in Bulgaria to increase electricity prices sparked protests from both employer organisations and trade unions over the summer. The energy regulator had initially announced price increases of between 13% and 20% for the majority of enterprises and between 4% and 13% for the most intensive energy-consumers. The four nationally representative employer organisations (BICA, BIA, BCCI and CEIBG) warned of lay-offs and pay cuts because of the planned price increases. Both employer organisations and trade unions organised demonstrations across the country in July to express their opposition. Over 1,000 enterprises participated in an hour-long work stoppage and more than 150,000 employees in 50 cities supported the protest action.

The price increase was due to come into force on 1 July but was postponed for a month to allow for a solution to be sought. At the end of July, KEVR announced revised electricity prices for customers, ranging from -5.11% to 1.09% depending on the energy supplier. The increase arises from a 'duty-to-society' tax that will be the same for both business and household users – BGN 38 (around €20). According to the chairman of KEVR, the price increases are unavoidable as 'the huge deficit of the National Electric Company ... must be brought under control'. The employer organisations warned that they would protest again in September 2015.

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