Industrial relations

Bulgaria: Latest developments in working life Q4 2019

A new collective agreement with guaranteed social benefits for road infrastructure employees and a national campaign to protect labour rights are the main topics of interest in this article. This country update reports on the latest developments in working life in Bulgaria in the fourth quarter of 2019.

New collective agreement for Road Infrastructure Agency

Employees’ social benefits at the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) will be protected over the next two years. On 21 October, the road transport affiliate of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), the Construction, Industry and Water Supply Federation – Podkrepa CL, and the RIA signed a new collective labour agreement and a collective contract for civil servants, members of trade unions. [1]

The agreement includes additional employee remuneration in certain circumstances. For each year of work and professional experience, there will be an allowance of 1.2% of the country's minimum wage on the monthly basic salary. For every worked hour in the night, an additional remuneration of not less than BGN 0.50 (€0.26 as at 13 February 2020) will be paid. The overtime will be paid with an increase of 50% for working days, 75% for weekends and 100% for official holidays.

The collective agreement also covers working hours and breaks, health and safety working conditions and more. Non-union civil servants may join the collective contract by submitting a written application.

Union launches campaign to protect labour rights

On 8 October, CITUB, Podkrepa CL, and their industrial affiliates launched the national campaign ‘Together to protect our labour’. [2] The aim is to collect at least 100,000 signatures supporting legislative changes in the following areas:

  • a significant increase of the pay for night work and on-call hours linked to the minimum wage
  • application of the summarised calculation of the working time (SCWT) only to production lines with uninterrupted work process
  • reporting of overtime of SCWT and increasing its compensation to 75% on weekends and 100% on public holidays

The SCWT regulation (in force from 1 January 2018) allows for the flexible structuring of working time, with the average calculated over several weeks. Long working hours in any given day can therefore be authorised, as long as the average stays within the eight-hour maximum limit.

CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov said that the confederation is determined to insist on the adoption of a fairer legal framework both of the summarised calculation of the working time and the payment of night and overtime work. The main guidelines of CITUB come from the ILO’s Hours of Work (Industry) Convention 1919 (No. 1) and the Commission’s Working Time Directive (2003/88/EC).

Podkrepa CL President Dimitar Manolov pointed out that Bulgaria ranks fifth in the EU in terms of longest working time. ‘Bulgarians have one of the longest working times but are the lowest paid’, he added. Both union leaders called for unity and said that their organisations stood ready to defend employee labour rights by all legal means.

Outlook

Earlier in 2019, the unions criticised the legislation on working time and compensation for night work and overtime. The working time regulations have not been updated for more than 10 years and major legislative changes in this area are expected in 2020.


Footnotes

  1. ^ KNSB-site (2019), Подписан е нов Колективен трудов договор за служителите в АПИ , 21 October.
  2. ^ KNSB-site (undated), Апел за Национална акция на работеща България 'Заедно да защитим труда си!‘ .

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