Bulgaria’s Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov said on August 21 that there was “no reason” to increase the salaries of police officers by 25 per cent next year, as demanded on August 20 by one of the country’s largest police unions.
The average monthly salary of Interior Ministry employees was already 1004 leva, nearly as high as that in the Finance Ministry, where “every employee has a university degree”, Dyankov told the breakfast TV show of Nova Televisia channel.
Increasing police salaries by 25 per cent would make the Interior Ministry the second-best paid, which was too much, he said. Police officers already enjoyed a number of perks – including a 45-day monthly holiday (compared to 25 days in the rest of the state administration) and early retirement at the age of 52 (more than a decade earlier than the usual retirement rate), which comes with a retirement bonus equivalent to two years’ worth of wages.
Police unions have been demanding recently the 25 per cent wage hike promised by the previous cabinet in 2008, threatening to protest otherwise (police officers are not allowed to hold effective strikes under Bulgarian law).
Other demands included limitations on overtime work, which is now remunerated with extra time off-duty, a request that the Interior Ministry has repeatedly rejected, saying that police officers enjoyed other perks not available to the rest of the labour force. The union has filed a complaint with the country’s discrimination watchdog, which is yet to rule on the matter.
The union also asked for harsher penalties for assault on police officers, saying that under current regulations, such cases usually resulted in nothing more than fines in the 200 leva to 300 leva range.
(Bulgarian Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov photo by the Finance Ministry)