In the Friday evening of November 27, 2015 the members of the FTTUB Trade union of Sofia Airport gathered at the Museum of Aviation for a general assembly.
FTTUB President Ekaterina Yordanova actively attended in the congregation at the invitation of the Union leaders and willingly answered all questions raised by the workers.
The Meeting was opened by the Union President Rostislav Bachvarov, who gave detailed information to the members about the current state of the negotiations for a new collective labour agreement (CLA). The bargaining procedure itself began on 18 August 2015 when the trade unions of FTTUB and “Podkrepa” at the airport formally presented their joint draft proposal for a new collective agreement to replace the one expiring on 19 November 2015. The new project proposed reasonable enhancement of some of the financial parameters and benefits for the airport workers. The regular meetings of the bargaining teams of the employer and the trade unions started on 1 October, the process went on for nearly a month and a half.
FTTUB was involved throughout the negotiation process with its expert team composed of Antonia Panayotova, a Civil Aviation and International Relations expert and Simeon Simeonov, a lawyer. In the most decisive moments and despite her tremendous professional workload Ekaterina Yordanova also took part in the negotiations. So far, the airport management has declared its readiness to maintain the current financial parameters and countersign the old collective agreement for a period of two years, with the commitment for reopening the topic for possible upgrade in spring or at the latest in early summer, depending on economic performance of the Company.
Union members hotly debated the intentions of the Bulgarian government to grant a concession on the airport and with the proceeds to repay The Bulgarian State Railways. They expressed their principal disagreement with the idea of funding an indebted enterprise with the profits from a successful and gainful venture and declared their determination to defend their jobs and the future of the company.
Ekaterina Yordanova informed the workers about the FTTUB initiated meeting with the Transport Minister Ivaylo Moskovski which was conducted in the spring of 2015, where he committed to consult and discuss all questions regarding the airport concession with the trade unions at every stage of the process.
In connection with the numerous media reports about the discussions of the state budget for 2016, which cites intentions for granting a concession on Sofia Airport in order to rescue Bulgarian Railways company, Yordanova explained that FTTUB has prepared and submitted a formal letter to the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, declaring its position on the concept of the concession of a profitable company with the aim of “resuscitation” of an indebted and loss-making enterprise. “We believe that before making such a final decision the possibility should be discussed now to discharge its obligations with proper financing from the sale of revalued assets of the company.”, she said. “Given the commitment made by the Minister of Transport and Communications to consult with trade unions in relation to the conditions under which a concession would be granted on Sofia airport, we expressly declare that so far such consultations have not been carried out and we do not have any information about the methodology which established the cited concession value of 600 million BGN, set in the revenue side of the Budget (2016).”
In this context, on 30 November 2015 FTTUB President sent two letters to the Ministry of Transport, IT and Communications. One is asking a meeting with the Minister on matters relating to airport concessions and the other insists on the convening of the Subsectoral council for tripartite cooperation in civil aviation in order to discuss a wide range of significant issues for the aviation sector in Bulgaria.
The TU meeting continued with discussions, questions and answers on the development of the dossier about the outsourcing of Sofia Airport cleaning activities, which was successfully prevented by FTTUB two years ago. The final decision of the Supreme Appeal Court from October 2015 triggered FTTUB prompt reaction and, as early as October 21, immediately after the judgment, Ekaterina Yordanova sent a letter of invitation to the CEO of Sofia Airport with a request for a meeting about the immediate intentions of the management on this occasion. FTTUB re-deposited its call for a meeting on this topic again on 2 December 2015.
The agenda of the meeting was exhausted and it was closed. The union members who have willingly sacrificed from personal time during that Friday night, departed better informed, confident that together they can achieve more and with the conviction that they are not alone.