Bulgaria: Government pushes through minimum wage increase despite opposition
The Bulgarian government proceeds with its decision to increase the statutory minimum wage despite legal action by employer organisations.
The Bulgarian government at the end of 2014 announced its decision to increase the statutory minimum wage in two stages, to BGN 360 (around €184) from 1 January 2015 and to BGN 380 (around €194) from 1 July 2015. On 19 May 2015, however, the Supreme Administrative Court revoked the ministerial decree establishing the rate increases. The lawsuit was launched by the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), the Bulgarian Industrial Association, and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI). The organisations contested the regulatory document, stressing that it has been approved without the legally required discussion at the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC).
The position of the Bulgarian government, according to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Social Policy Ivaylo Kalfin, is that the minimum wage increase was discussed during another meeting of NCTC – the 2015 state budget review. The court judged that this discussion did not exempt the Council of Ministers from the obligation to hold consultations within the NCTC. The trade union confederations CITUB and 'Podkrepa' had previously used a similar argument – that the government had 'jumped over' the NCTC – to dispute rises in the prices of heating and electricity, which were later reversed by the court.
Despite the ruling, the government confirmed its decision to raise the minimum wage by approving a new decree on 3 June 2015, which, it argues, answers the objections of the court.