We all need to stand up for our Right to strike


On 18 February FTTUB will participate in the Global action day under the motto ‘Hands off our right to strike!’, organized by the International Trade Unions Confederation (ITUC), International Transport workers’ Federation (ITF), Public Services International (PSI) and other international federations representing workers from various sectors.

ITUC has prepared an in-depth analysis of the legal grounds for the right to strike and the role of ILO, which can be read here. The right to strike has been guaranteed as every worker’s legal right ever since ILO’s Convention 87 was adopted back in 1948. Each state which has ratified an ILO convention is bound to observe its regulatioons. Regardless of this, for the last few years the employers have been questioning and undermining this key worker’s right and its legal foundations; and as of today, according to ITUC’s data, workers in 37 countries have been detained for protests or strike activities.

ILO’s Governing body meets 3 times a year and consists of representatives of governments, workers and employers – a mechanism not far from the National Council for tripartite cooperation in Bulgaria, only working on a global level. Bulgaria is represented both in the group of governments, through the Minister of Labour and social policies and members of his team, and in the worker’s group – by Plamen DImitrov, president of CITUB.

 Back in 2012, the employers’ group within ILO started challenging the right to strike, claiming that it is not covered by Convention 87. The idea is to prevent national and regional courts from deriving a right to strike from international law, which woud be especially bad for countries which have not defined that right well into their own legal system but rather rely on international legislation. Worker’s group replied to the challenge by proposing to refer the matter to the International Court of Justice. During the last session of ILO’s GB in November 2014, employers blocked this proposal. Thus, the GB had to come up with the decision to hold further tripartite meetings before its next sitting.

Two key events at ILO are upcoming in the following few days:

  1. Between 23 and 25 February employers, workers and governments will hold a tripartite meeting, trying once more to reach a consensus on the right to strike.
  2. On 12-26 March the 323rd session of ILO’s GB will take place, and the decision of the tripartite meeting will be reported there. If no agreement has been reached, the GB will rule that the matter be referred to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

It is of key importance that the voice of workers worldwide be heard immediately before these events. This is exactly the role of the ‘Right to strike’ campaign, which covers workers of all sectors of economy and from all corners of the world, turning the event into probably the largest manifestation of workers’ will at the moment.

FTTUB is following closely the development of this issue and back in November 2014 we sent a letter to the Minister of Labour and Social Policies, urging him and Bulgarian government’s representatives on ILO’s GB to vote in favour of the right to strike.

On 18 February, FTTUB will take active part in the Global action day for the right to strike. Today is also the day of CITUB National conference celebrating its 25th anniversary, with 400 delegates from all over the country anticipated, and special guests: the Minister of Labour and Social Policies, and representatives of employers’ organizations. FTTUB will have a 10-member delegation, presided by Mrs Ekaterina Yordanova. Among the members will be the co-chairs of FTTUB’s Youth committee Alina Milusheva and Georgi Georgiev, as well as the chair of Women’s committee Iskra Tsakova. At the concert in the evening we are expecting 170 FTTUB leaders and activists from all over the country representing all transport sectors. Among the special guests will be members of the government, officials from the local authorities, employers and media. We shall use these massive social events to turn the attention of all particiants to the importance of the right to strike question and the significance of the forecoming decisions. We shall also lobby that government, employers and workers all unite around a common understanding of the right to strike and all act in favour of it – both on national and international level.

ITUC General Secretary will be the most significant guest of the conference. The fact that Mrs Burrow has chosen to be in Bulgaria on the Right to strike action day makes us very proud. We are convinced that her presence will add huge value to the importance of this day in Bulgaria.

The Right to strike campaign is going at full speed on the Internet as well. On the website www.right2strike.org, created by ITF, you can keep track of workers’ actions around the world. You can also support the Thunderclap campaign for 18.02, initiated by the Union of Indian Railways NFIR, by clicking the button ‘use application’ in the header of our Facebook page.

Let us wish ourselves a successful action day and let us defend with dignity our right to strike!