From the TUC

Bulgarian and British unions: united against pensions injustice

29 Nov 2011, By

As public sector workers in Britain strike for their pension rights tomorrow, Bulgarian trade union confederations CITUB and PODKREPA will be demonstrating in front of the Parliament in Sofia, also for workers’ pension rights.

The Bulgarian government plans to raise the retirement age by a year from 1 January. It’s not as if the unions in Bulgaria weren’t prepared to negotiate. Indeed, in blatant contradiction with a Trilateral Agreement signed by the Prime Minister a year ago, the unilateral increase from 1 January replaces a smooth increase in the retirement age 4 months a year for the next 9 years until a general increase of 3 years is reached; with a further increase of the retirement age by 6 months per year from 2021.

We’ve sent a message of solidarity (see below for text). Although the issue is not exactly the same, it is certainly yet another attempt to make ordinary workers pay for a crisis they didn’t cause, and we need to unite across national borders to develop a sustainable economic alternative.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber has sent the following message to be read out at the demonstration in Sofia:

The TUC sends greetings on behalf of our 6 million trade unionists to the Bulgarian trade union movement on the occasion of your national demonstration against increases in the state pension age, unilaterally imposed by the Government in breach of previously negotiated agreements.

It is a reflection of the co-ordinated attack on ordinary workers who played no part and secured no advantage from the global economic crisis, but are now being required to pay for it, that Bulgarian and British workers’ pension rights are being eroded at the same time. And it is a measure of the global solidarity we need to build that on the same day Bulgarian unions are demonstrating against the raising of the state pension age, British public sector workers are striking against the Government’s demand that they work longer, pay more and get less.

Bulgarian and British workers have worked together over workers’ rights and the rights of migrants and we must now work together through the European Trade Union Confederation against austerity and for a sustainable economic strategy. Good luck with your demonstration and your campaign.