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Bulgaria's Military Plant Workers Get Pay, Call off Strike
Date: 25/01/2013

Nearly BGN four million have been wired Friday for salaries of workers at Bulgaria's State-owned arms manufacturer, VMZ Sopot.

The news was announced by Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, at an emergency briefing at the Council of Ministries building. He declared the workers will receive the entire amount of their overdue pay.

It was further reported that Borisov is meeting Friday with the Presidents of the two main trade unions in the country – Konstantin Trenchev of the Confederation of Labor Podkrepa (Support) and Plamen Dimitrov of the Confederation of Independent Syndicates in Bulgaria, KNSB.

Economy and Energy Minister, Delyan Dobrev, will attend the meeting as well.

Speaking earlier in the morning in an interview for bTV, the PM declared his Cabinet had fought relentlessly for VMZ Sopot.

He informed the BGN 6 M slated earlier by the State for salaries of workers were spent by the plant's director for raw materials.

Trenchev wants the director to be prosecuted for embezzlement.

On Thursday, talks between trade unions and the management of the factory VMZ Sopot were called off for next week.

Trade unions have requested more information and specific data for optimization plans of the management, which says it needs to lay off some 2/3 of the factory's workers to get the severely indebted state company back on foot.

VMZ Sopot's workers, who have not received their wages for months, still staged a strike Friday morning in the town of Sopot where tensions have been boiling for months.

The strike, however, has been called off by the trade unions after the news about the salaries transfer emerged.

10 days ago, the privatization procedure for the plant fell through, after the only bidder failed to present an adequate proposal.

The center-right GERB cabinet, led by Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov, has claimed that only a significant layoff, to be followed by privatization, can salvage the works.

The VMZ Sopot weapons factory is estimated to have gathered a debt of BGN 140 M, with significant parts of it overdue.

Proceedings against the factory by its creditors have already been started.

In Sopot, high school students have rallied in support of striking workers. They have also sent a letter to Borisov, requesting to meet him to discuss the situation.

Topic: Financial

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