site.btaUPDATED Miners, Energy Workers Protest in Front of Council of Ministers
Miners and energy workers protested in front of the Council of Ministers here on Tuesday under the slogan, "A clear and secure energy future for Bulgaria!" Nearly 6,000 miners and energy workers from the coal mining sector in the country took part in Tuesday’s national march organized by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour in the Maritsa East complex, the National Federation of Energy Workers, the National Trade Union Federation of Energy Workers in Bulgaria, the Federation of Independent Miners' Unions, the Miners' Trade Union, and the Energy Federation.
The President of the Podkrepa Confederation of Labour Dimitar Manolov promised to the protesters that together they will be able to make the Government "think about the people and stop obeying the European bureaucrats".
"Worthy Bulgarians, we are the people and we have the right to say what will happen in this country," said CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov, who added that they will not stop until they find politicians who will support them.
The trade unions fear job losses - about 12,000 jobs in the Maritsa East complex with a tendency to become 15,000 after 2030. CITUB fears that up to 100,000 jobs in the sector will be indirectly threatened.
Some of the protesters went in for a meeting with Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov in the Council of Ministers. The group was led by Plamen Dimitrov and Dimitar Manolov.
While the representative group of protesters was negotiating with the Prime Minister, several demands to the government were formulated outside:
- to immediately conclude the renegotiation with the European Commission of the requirement for a 40% cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2026 in the energy sector compared with 2019;
- to scrap the scenarios proposed by the Energy Transition Commission of the EU Green Deal Advisory Board for permanent closure of coal-fired power generation capacities by 2030;
- to secure EU funding for the introduction of innovative technologies for lower carbon electricity generation from thermal power plants, which will guarantee the potential of coal as an energy source;
- to prepare an Energy Strategy for the period until 2050, which should be coordinated with the social partners;
- to postpone the January 2026 deadline for energy market liberalization for household consumers by at least 3 years or until the average EU levels of energy poor households are reached;
- to sign a National Fair Transition Agreement with the nationally representative trade unions by September 28.
Emerging from the meeting with the Prime Minister, Dimitrov said that a State-owned enterprise will be set up by October 15, so that even if a single worker loses their job at the mine, they will be re-employed under the same working conditions, so they will not remain jobless until 2038. The enterprise will be funded regionally under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan for Stara Zagora, Pernik, and Kyustendil.