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2-6 Human Rights: Worker Rights. The Right of Association




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This article is from the Bulgaria FAQ, by Dragomir R. Radev radev@tune.cs.columbia.edu with numerous contributions by others.

2-6 Human Rights: Worker Rights. The Right of Association

The 1991 Constitution provides for the right of all workers to form or
join trade unions of their own choice, and this right was apparently
freely exercised. Estimates of the unionized share of the workforce
range from 30 to 50 percent. This share is shrinking as large firms lay
off workers, and most new positions appear in small, nonunionized
businesses.

Bulgaria has two large trade union confederations, the Confederation of
Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB), and Podkrepa. CITUB, the
successor to the trade union controlled by the former Communist regime,
operates as an independent entity. Podkrepa, an independent
confederation created in 1989, was one of the earliest opposition forces
but is no longer a member of the Union of Democratic Forces, the main
opposition party. In February a third trade union confederation, the
Community of Free Union Organizations in Bulgaria (CFUOB), was admitted
to the National Tripartite Coordination Council (NTCC), which includes
employers and the government (see Section 6.b.). CITUB and Podkrepa
filed a joint complaint to the International Labor Organization (ILO)
against the Government's selection of CFUOB as the labor delegate to the
1995 ILO conference. The ILO found that the Government had unilaterally
imposed rotation of the labor delegate among three trade union
organizations without consulting the other two.

The 1992 Labor Code recognizes the right to strike when other means of
conflict resolution have been exhausted, but "political strikes" are
forbidden. Workers in essential services are prohibited from striking.
There was no evidence that the Government interfered with the right to
strike, and several work stoppages took place. The Labor Code's
prohibitions against antiunion discrimination include a 6-month period
of protection against dismissal as a form of retribution. While these
provisions appear to be within international norms, there is no
mechanism other than the courts for resolving complaints, and the burden
of proof in such a case rests entirely on the employee.

The ILO in 1993 requested further information on lustration proceedings,
measures directed at compensating ethnic Turks for abuses under the
previous regime, efforts taken to improve the economic situation of
minorities, and measures to promote equality between men and women in
workplace opportunity. At year's end, the ILO was still reviewing the
information provided to it by the Government, including information
provided this year on efforts to improve the situation of minorities.
The ILO has not yet issued opinions or recommendations on these matters.

There are no restrictions on affiliation or contact with international
labor organizations, and unions actively exercise this right.

 

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