18 July 2013 – Stephen Cotton, ITF acting general secretary, met with Bulgarian workers earlier this week to get an understanding of the issues they face. Cotton is visiting the country’s capital, Sofia – which will host the ITF’s next congress in 2014 – on a three-day fact finding mission.
Cotton has heard from dozens of transport workers during his visit. Workers from the Electrical Transport Company (JSC), a publicly-owned transport workplace that’s fifty-fifty gender balanced, told Cotton about common problems. “Dialogue and collective bargaining is key for us” they insisted, “getting trained and qualified is hard for young people because the company doesn’t pay for the courses”. One tram worker shared how the economic crisis had affected working conditions: “Renewing our rolling stock, and the reconstruction of infrastructure is slower because of economic crisis, and this impacts on our health and safety”.
Cotton invited the workers to engage with the ITF in the run-up to the Congress and to attend the event, which will be held in August 2014. “We want to support you” he said, “we want you to be stronger because of your international friendships and shared experiences.”
Earlier in the visit to Sofia, Cotton met with aviation workers worried about airport concessioning. The Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria (FTTUB) leader Ekaterina Yordanova was able to raise this issue with the transport minister during a meeting of the international delegation, which also included Steve Turner, executive policy director of UNITE the Union and ITF policy coordinator Sarah Finke.