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Workers at Bulgaria's state-owned Maritsa Iztok Mine continued their strike for a second day on Monday, with miners demanding an increase in wages.
Bulgaria's two main labour unions – the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB, and Podkrepa Labor Confederation (Support) reported Monday morning that 93 per cent of miners from the night shift went on strike.
The protest movement is taking place in all three coal mines, which service several power plants in the country.
The workers are demanding better wages, and in particular a request for a cash bonus they say they were promised in the summer.
The strike was launched after talks failed on Friday, with miners saying they are protesting "the irresponsible behavior of the company's management."
Discussions between the management of Maritsa Iztok Mines AD and the syndicates at the state-owned company have been going on for a month, but the talks have failed to bring about a resolution.
The trade unions insist that the employer comply with an agreement signed in July 2011 that linked worker payments to the company's revenues.
They claim the Maritsa Iztok CEO, Evgeni Stoykov, withdrew his signature from the document despite the anticipated BGN 500 million [€250 million] in revenues, thereby leaving the miners without year-end bonuses.
Bulgaria's Economy and Energy Minister, Traicho Traikov, vowed Sunday that electric power supply would not be cut over the strike, but warned it could lead to a hike in prices, along with a possible bankruptcy of the company. He said the claims of the labor unions are groundless and nothing had been written on paper.
Also on Sunday, CEO Stoykov issued a special address to miners, calling their strike illegal.
Stoykov says that for the fourth quarter of 2011, 10.35 per cent in compensations, calculated in the base of the net quarterly wage, will be paid with the December salary, insisting that it is impossible for the company to fulfill any additional requests.
The strike is estimated to cost the company BGN 2-3 million [€1.5 million] a day.
To keep its reform policy credible for investors, the government must find common ground with the IMF and look for a new arrangement, experts say.