Bulgarian coal miners stage one-hour warning strike
SOFIA - Agence France-Presse
State-firm Maritza East Mines is the largest coal mining company in neighboring Bulgaria.Miners at Bulgaria’s largest coal mining company, state-owned Maritza East Mines, staged a one-hour warning strike yesterday, demanding wage increases, the miners’ trade unions said.
Workers stopped coal ore production and shipments to the four electric power plants supplied by the company between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m., even if they remained at their jobs. They threatened to launch an effective strike Saturday if the company management failed to meet demands for raising salaries in accordance with increased coal production at the three mines operated by Maritza East Mines.
“We exceeded last year’s production target of 27 million tons of coal ore, producing 6.9 million tons more. The miners deserve to be rewarded for what they accomplished, risking their lives and health,” KNSB miners’ union leader Damyan Kosev told national radio.
Some 95 percent of all workers at the three mines and the company administration had joined the strike, Kosev said.
The state-owned company supplies 90 percent of all lignite coal used for electricity production in Bulgaria.
Four coal-fired plants at the Maritza East complex near Radnevo rely on the mines for their production - Bulgarian Brikel and Maritza East 2 and U.S.-owned Contour Global Maritza East 3 and AES Galabovo. They provide 32 percent of all electricity used in the country.
Cutting coal supplies to the plants might trigger power outages, the unions warned, while Maritza East Mines management said the plants should have coal stocks to last them between 15 and 20 days.
Company chief executive Evgeny Stoykov said an effective strike might cost the company daily losses of up to 3 million leva ($2 million) and offered to negotiate a scheme for individual bonuses to the best-performing miners.