site.btaUPDATED Protesters Gather in Radnevo, Call Off Meeting on Future of Coal Industry
Miners, energy workers and trade unions’ representatives gathered in front of the Cultural Centre building in Radnevo (Stara Zagora Region), where an emergency meeting with representatives of the Energy Ministry and the Regional Development and Public Works Ministry was expected to take place.
On Wednesday, the meeting was urgently scheduled following tensions over the planned vote on Territorial Just Transition Plans for Coal Regions. Subsequently, the Council of Ministers postponed the agenda item to its extraordinary meeting on Friday and began talks with disgruntled trade union leaders representing TPP Maritsa East 2 and Maritsa East Mines.
Later on Thursday, the meeting was called off as energy workers and miners, as well as union representatives, refused to meet with Deputy Energy Minister Krasimir Nenov and did not enter the hall to talk to him. They joined a protest, demanding that another month to discuss the plan, as the document was only published on Wednesday noon. The protesters said the Territorial Just Transition Plans for the three coal regions of Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil were drafted in a way allowing private companies to absorb more than BGN 1.5 billion.
The workers demand that the Territorial Plans include specific measures to create new jobs in the region and postpone the curtailment of coal-fired power generation.
Deputy Energy Minister Krassimir Nenov told journalists: "Active work on the plans has been taking place over the past few months. Ten days ago, there was a public consultation and were received many recommendations and opinions based on the updated plans, published about a month ago. These opinions have been largely reflected in the updated plans to best meet the needs and interests of the people concerned".
Nenov categorically denied that the funds had been distributed to a specific circle of companies. "The EC and the terms of the Just Transition Fund stipulate that the money from this fund is intended for small and medium-sized enterprises. Exceptions for large enterprises can be made if they are in great need" he emphasized.
Stara Zagora Mayor Zhivko Todorov told journalists: "I stand firmly against the current plan, as it will not meet the goals set in it. It is an absolutely formal plan and I think it will create more problems for the region than solutions. We must all oppose the incompetence of the administration that has drawn up this plan. We must warn of the consequences, and I am obliged to sound the alarm about this," he said, adding that this plan will create unemployment, chaos, and problems for the region.