The BWI affiliates in Bulgaria report that the government is not doing enough to secure workers’ jobs and income from COVID-19, which makes them vulnerable to the health and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Bulgaria, categorized as the poorest country in the European Union, and which recently is suffering from a serious socio-economic crisis, has declared a state of emergency last 13 March.
Schools, restaurants and other public venues were all closed. A temporary ban on foreign and domestic holiday trips was also imposed. While many companies have ceased to operate due to the shortage of raw materials, the government decided not to shut down non-essential industrial production. This has reportedly severely undermined the job and income security of countless workers. The unions said that many regular workers were left with no option but to file for unpaid leaves. Worse, many workers have lost their jobs, the unions added.
On 24 March, the government adopted several temporary provisions in the labour law that explore the possibility of workers receiving paid leaves during a state of emergency after pressure from the trade unions, including BWI affiliates.
Unions have demanded measures to secure workers’ health, safety and livelihood during the crisis, including: wage compensation packages to offset the workers’ loss of income, a price freeze on essential goods, such as food and medicine and the right of workers to refuse to work on workplaces that do not follow COVID-19 health protocols.