European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Strikes in Bulgaria - background summary

The right to strike in Bulgaria is guaranteed in the Constitution and labour legislation. In 2016 amendments to the Civil Servants Act were made and the right to strike was also extended for the civil servants. Only some high-level officers (like principle secretaries of ministries, secretaries of the municipal administration etc.) are excluded from the scope of the legal provisions that guarantee the right to strike. However, Parliament didn’t accept suggestions for the rights of the civil servants to collective bargaining. The two trade unions-CITUB and CL Podkrepa have prepared a collective complaint, addressed to the Council of Europe and related to the observing of the article 6 of the Revised Social Charter of the Council of Europe, which has been ratified by Bulgaria in the year 2000. However, strikes are still forbidden for employees in the military service, in the police, for judges, attorneys and employees in the investigation, in the intelligence service and in the national security guard service.

  • The law for the settlement of collective labour disputes is the legal framework, defining the right to strike. A strike is defined as a dispute between workers and employers, relating to labour relations, social security and living standards. The definition also covers disputes related to the conclusion or implementation of a collective agreement. The main type of industrial action is the ‘active strike’, during which employees stop working. It may be organised after the failure of negotiation, conciliation, mediation or arbitrage. During the strike, employees need to be present at their workplace at their normal working hours. Another type of strike is the ‘symbolic strike’ which means working as usual while wearing or display in gap propriate signs, protest posters, ribbons, badges or other suitable symbols. This kind of strike can also be used by the employees, for whom the law still doesn’t allow to be involved in ‘active strike’. According to the Act on Settlement of Collective Labour Disputes (ASCLD) the right to strike is guaranteed for all sectors of the economy, except mentioned above. However, in some essential public services (health care, electricity distribution, telecommunications, security, etc.) the employees and the public employer are obliged to conclude a written agreement at least 3 days in advance to organise a minimum service.
  • No comprehensive data are available about strikes in Bulgaria. According to the ECS (2013) in the period 2010-2013 only 5% of all private sector companies reported strikes of one day or more (Bulgaria Working Live Profile, Eurofound). In 2015, there were only 4 ‘active strikes’, registered in the National Institute for Conciliation and Arbitration, one in the manufacturing, one in utilities (water supply),’one in education and one in culture and entertainment. The number of participants in total was 206 and total working days lost 1625. In 2017, three ‘active strikes’ took place in companies, all in the mining industry, with 121 participants and total number of working days lost 313.There is no official register for the strikes in the National Statistical Institute.

 (update March 2019)