site.btaTransport Workers' Protests Upset Services, Traffic

Transport Workers' Protests Upset Services, Traffic
Transport Workers' Protests Upset Services, Traffic
The protesting transport workers in the square between the headquarters of the government and the President's Office on May 18 (BTA Photo)

Sofia public transport company employees, taxi drivers and heavy-duty truckers organized by transport workers unions blocked key thoroughfares in Sofia on Wednesday. They demand government funding to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising energy prices. The protest was mottoed "Say NO to Humiliating Pay!"

The Government on Tuesday met with the protest organizers in a bid to reach understanding on the outstanding issues, but they came out determined to go ahead with their plans.

The industrial action was organized by the transport workers' union affiliated to the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour and the Association of Transport Unions. More protests across the country disrupted services and disturbed traffic in some areas. 

At 8:00 a.m. in Sofia, three key junctions in the city centre were blocked and only public transport vehicles were let through. The protesters marched through the city and reached the Finance Ministry and the Council of Ministers buildings.

Ekaterina Yordanova of the Association of Transport Unions told reporters that their grievances were "simple and feasible": revising the state budget to make it possible to meet the transport companies' needs.  "Public transport [in Sofia] incurs close to BGN 500,000, which passenger fare revenues cannot covered," she said. 

Road hauliers protested across the country to press for measures they hope would cut their costs. They demand a six-month break for biofuel additives, lower excise duty for fuel, and postponing government plans to toll second-class roads as well in addition to motorways and first-class ones.

In Sofia, trucks gathered at the Trakia Motorway exit from the capital but were not allowed beyond city limits, and the drivers were bused to join the protesters downtown. 

Protesting truckers and bus carriers congested traffic on the Yambol Ring Road (Southeastern Bulgaria), the road between Stara Zagora and Dimitrovgrad (Southeastern Bulgaria), and on Maritsa Motorway, where they reached the Kapitan Andreevo Checkpoint on Bulgaria's border with Turkey. A protest motorcade rode through the centre of Pleven and Lovech (North Central Bulgaria), as well as in Varna (on the Black Sea), but traffic there was not disturbed. The protests halted bus services between Sofia and Kyustendil (Southwestern Bulgaria), in the Haskovo Region, as well as between Sofia and Smolyan and Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria).  

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By 19:12 on 08.08.2022 Today`s news

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