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Workers, management of Bulgaria's military factory VMZ strike deal

Date: 24.11.2008

The workers of one of Bulgaria's largest military factories, VMZ, which is located in the central Bulgarain town of Sopot, called off their strike on Friday after they reached an agreement with the management.

Several hundred workers led by the Podkrepa Labor Confederation stopped work as planned Friday morning in order to stage a protest rally.

A fight almost broke out at one point, when the protesting workers blocked the central entrance of the factory in order to prevent some of their colleagues, who did not support the strike, to reach their working places.

Later on Friday, however, the management of the factory agreed to fulfill all of the workers' demands including the payment of salary increases of BGN 22 since July 1, the payment of transport allowances, the crafting of a production program for the next six months, and the termination of the sale of recycled factory equipment.

According to the Podkrepa trade union, a total of 1000 workers stopped work on Friday in protest. Many of the protesting workers stated they demanded a monthly salary of BGN 700. However, no such demand had formally been made by the trade unionists, and no such deal was included into the agreement that the syndicates and the management signed on Friday.

During the warning protests earlier this week, Georgi Katsarov from the strike committee of the Podkrepa Labor Confederation, said the actual average monthly wages in the plant were between BGN 320 and BGN 340. Katsarov also announced the claims of the VMZ Sopot Director Ivan Ivanov that the monthly salary in the plant was BGN 700 were not true.

The strike organized by Podkrepa was not supported by the other major trade union - the Confederation of the Independent Bulgarian Syndicates (KNSB).

KNSB representatives have stated the Podkrepa Union did not want to cooperate with them, and that the workers' salaries were paid regularly, and the arms factory had enough orders to work properly.

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