site.btaUPDATED Key Roads in Stara Zagora Region Remain Blocked by Protesting Miners for Fourth Day
Protesting miners and energy workers continue to block key roads and road facilities in the region of Stara Zagora for a fourth day on Monday. The Interior Ministry reported at 11 am that the protesters continue blocking traffic through the Pass of the Republic near the village of Gurkovo and the cloverleaf interchange on the Trakia motorway leading to Stara Zagora and Haskovo.
They also overcame a police cordon to block the movement through Struma Motorway at its 59+190 km in both directions of the Sofia – Blagoevgrad route. Traffic on road II-62 between Dupnitsa and Kyustendil is also obstructed and traffic police teams are on the scene.
On Sunday the protesters declined an invitation by Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov to meet and urged for an extraordinary meeting of the government to withdraw the territorial just transition plans submitted to the European Commission. They also demanded the resignation of Energy Minister Rumen Radev. “The deadline for submission to the Commission has been met, now we want the plans to be revised taking into consideration our demands,” the local chapter of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) in the Maritsa East 2 thermal power plant told BTA.
Prime Minister Denkov said that plans for the development of the energy sector should be based on actual facts and not on political inventions.
On Monday, employees of the thermal power plant in Sliven briefly blocked an entrance to the town as a sign of support for the protest of their fellow miners and energy workers.
"We stand in solidarity with our colleagues, who have been on the barricade for the fourth day," TPP Sliven CITUB Trade Union organization chair Docho Dochev told BTA.
In a letter distributed in the media, TPP Sliven management said: "We will not allow ourselves to become spectators of the liquidation of the Bulgarian energy sector. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with every energy worker, every power plant and support any protest that would lead to a truly just and clear transition in the name of preserving Bulgaria's energy sector." According to them, some companies have absorbed the decarbonisation funds or will do so very soon. They say that the transition has already been accelerated to 2030 and that it is not a transition, but an accelerated decarbonisation of the energy sector. "A just transition with funds being absorbed in a non-transparent way cannot happen," the letter said.
TPP Sliven workers are demanding a programme that leads to more transparency and peace.
Workers from the thermal power plant in the northeastern city of Ruse also staged a peaceful protest in front of the company’s building.
"We demand revision of the Territorial Just Transition Plans which we haven't even seen. We can't switch to other fuels other than coal in such a short time - by 2026. We want a public consultation that we can participate in. If the emission reduction continues at the rate discussed, TPP Ruse will have to stop operating in 2026. This means that 20,000 people will be left without heat and hot water," TPP Ruse CITUB trade union organization Chair Elena Mlechenkova said.
In Sofia, at a press conference about the ongoing protests, BSP for Bulgaria Floor Leader Korneliya Ninova said: “We are submitting a letter to National Assembly Chair Rosen Zhelyazkov, calling for an extraordinary sitting of Parliament”.
The left-wing MPs want Zhelyazkov to call an extraordinary sitting of Parliament on Tuesday or Wednesday to discuss the opposition's proposal of September 29 that Parliament should instruct the Council of Ministers to reverse its decision to send the Territorial Just Transition Plans to the European Commission and to request a one-month extension during which it can hold talks with the trade unions, workers and parliamentary parties so as to come up with the best solution.
Protesting energy workers and miners near Dupnitsa, together with their colleagues from Stara Zagora and Pernik, coalesced around six main demands, which have been sent to the government, the Chair of Podkrepa Confederation of Labour’s Dupnitsa branch, Yordanka Germanova, said on Monday.
She said that the protesters demand guarantees from the government that the State will not reduce coal capacities and close coal-fired power plants until 2038. One of the main demands is also for domestic consumers to remain in the regulated electricity market.