Bulgarian miners rally against mine closures, demand sustainable transition

Protesters Voice Concerns Over Rapid Closure Plans and Call for Fair Transition Strategy

In a resounding display of unity, Bulgarian miners from various coal mines have come together to protest against the planned closures of coal plants and mines across the country. The protest, organized by workers at the “Republika” TPP and “Min Industry” EOOD in Pernik, marks a significant movement against the proposed closure timelines.

Hundreds of Industry Workers Gather in Solidarity:

In a powerful demonstration of solidarity on 28.08, hundreds of workers employed in the coal mining industry gathered to express their unwavering support for their fellow colleagues, particularly those in the Stara Zagora region and the Mariška Basin. The protest was marked by passionate speeches, signs, and calls for a fair and sustainable transition plan.

Miners Demand Revised Closure Plans:

Eng. Chavdar Stoinev, the executive director of TPP “Toplofikatsia – Pernik,” emphasized that the protest was intended to peacefully communicate the energy workers’ and miners’ strong disagreement with the current EU Recovery and Sustainability Plan. This plan outlines the closure of regional thermal power plants by 2027, unless they transition to alternative fuel sources. Stoinev stressed that the transition requires careful planning and coordination with all stakeholders.

Trade Unions Stand United:

Representatives of trade union organizations, including KNSB’s Iliyana Velkova and Julian Georgiev, stood in solidarity with the protesters. They voiced their staunch support for the cause and expressed their categorical refusal to accept the rapid implementation of the EU Territorial Plans for Just Transition. The trade unions echoed the protesters’ sentiments, demanding a more comprehensive and equitable approach to the transition.

Impact on Local Communities at the Forefront:

The protesters and trade unions emphasized the potential consequences of the abrupt closure of coal plants and mines on local communities. Schools, kindergartens, hospitals, and the livelihoods of thousands of families are closely tied to the coal industry. Concerns were raised over the feasibility of swiftly transitioning such a significant workforce to alternative employment opportunities.

Call for a Fair and Smooth Transition:

The protesters and trade unions jointly issued a statement urging authorities to reconsider the closure plans and engage in dialogue with the miners and workers. They proposed a renegotiation of the Prepared Territorial Plan and an extension of coal plant operations until 2038 to ensure a smooth and just transition that safeguards the well-being of affected communities.

Potential for Further Action:

As tensions escalate, miners from the Southwestern coal mining region have prepared a protest declaration. This declaration calls for substantial changes to the “Energy” section of the Territorial Plan and a commitment to keeping coal plants operational until 2038. The miners have not ruled out the possibility of taking further actions, including effective strike measures, if their concerns are not addressed.

Continuing Protests for a Stronger Future:

In a show of determination, members of trade union organizations KT “Support” and KNSB staged a protest in front of the Stara Zagora Municipality building. They highlighted the pivotal role of the mining and energy complex in the region’s economy and jobs. The protest coincided with discussions about the future of the “Maritsa-East” energy complex, underscoring the importance of these conversations.

Looking Ahead:

As the protests gain momentum, the miners and trade unions have presented a declaration to various government officials and authorities expressing their grievances with the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. They seek immediate negotiations with the European Commission for a sustainable transition strategy that safeguards both the workforce and local communities.

Voices of Concern Echo:

The passion and determination of the Bulgarian miners and trade unions continue to reverberate, setting the stage for potentially transformative conversations about the future of the nation’s energy landscape. As the protesters stand united, their voices of concern echo, demanding a just and equitable path forward.

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