Bulgaria’s anti-government ‘Early Rising Students’ to protest against MPs’ salary hike

Written by on February 6, 2014 in Bulgaria - No comments

The anti-government “Early Rising Students” group is to hold a protest on February 6 against an increase in the salaries of members of Bulgaria’s 42nd National Assembly.

Salaries of members of Parliament were frozen in 2010 in response to the effect of the global financial and economic crisis on Bulgaria.

But in 2014, the Parliament elected in May 2013 has taken no decision to again freeze salaries, meaning that an automatic increase will come into effect, adding 350 leva to existing 2200 leva (about 1100 euro) a month salaries.

In Bulgaria, the statutory minimum salary is 340 leva and minimum pensions will increase mid-year by 4.50 leva to 154.50 leva.

The Early Rising Students group, which carried out an “occupation” of the central campus of Sofia University from October to mid-January in support of demands for the resignation of the current Bulgarian Socialist Party government and the dissolving of the 42nd National Assembly to clear the way for new elections, said that after seven months of anti-government protests, “the government has decided that people were actually out on the streets to cheer them on”.

“Therefore, for the huge merit and a job well done, they decided not to freeze their salaries, which they will increase by 350 leva. For them, 2200 leva was too little.”

The students noted that in 2007, when BSP leader Sergei Stanishev was prime minister and Plamen Oresharski – current occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the BSP government was finance minister – a teachers’ strike of 40 days had resuted in an increase in teachers’ salaries by 80 leva.

Bulgaria is frequently described as the poorest of the European Union’s 28 member states. In 2013, foreign direct investment was insignificant, while between December 2012 and December 2013, about 18 000 people lost their jobs. This brought the number of unemployed in Bulgaria to 441 000, going by Eurostat statistics, out of a population of about 7.1 million – a jobless rate of more than 13 per cent.

The protest was scheduled to begin at 6pm at the Cabinet office in Sofia. On Facebook, more than 2000 people said that they would attend.

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