ITF and ETF back Sofia airport workers

10 Oct 2013

 The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) and the ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation) today pledged their support for workers at Sofia airport.

The two organisations are sounding the alarm after receiving information alleging that the management of Sofia Airport has been ignoring workers’ internationally agreed labour rights on the freedom of association – as well as their rights to information, consultation, protection, and to conclude a collective bargaining agreement (CBA).

According to the ITF- and ETF-affiliated Federation of Transport Trade Unions in Bulgaria (FTTUB), collective bargaining negotiations with the airport management began in July 2013; however, management has categorically refused to discuss provisions on the protection of union members. In the meantime, many workers have been laid off.

The FTTUB also reports that outsourcing of cleaning services has also begun without any proper consultation and despite opposition to the move. Necessary protections, including job and benefits guarantees, have not been provided, and the new employer is now cutting wages and annual leave entitlements. The Federation goes on to report that the new employer aims to eliminate social benefits and shorten the probationary period significantly. Employees fear that they will be faced with the choice of resigning ‘voluntarily’ if they do not agree to work for the new employer under these new conditions.

The FTTUB states that, determined to fight for their rights and in line with national legislation, the workers started the procedure for initiating a strike by collecting signatures, but these were then torn up by management representatives, and that the airport workers believe they are under threat because of their trade union membership.

ETF civil aviation secretary François Ballestero commented: “These are serious allegations of behaviour that has no place in a country such as Bulgaria. We, as the ITF and ETF, call on the airport management to: respect the Bulgarian labour code and the European Social Charter; cease any violation of workers’ rights of association; negotiate a new collective agreement in which staff’s rights and interests are protected; and immediately terminate the tendering procedure for cleaning services, which is dramatically at variance with established norms of consultation and protection of employees’ rights and conditions.”

ITF civil aviation secretary Gabriel Mocho added: “We clearly declare our support for the workers of Sofia Airport and their union the FTTUB. Unless these issues are immediately addressed we will have no choice but to commence action by filing a complaint to the International Labour Organization (ILO).”

The ITF represents over 620,000 aviation workers worldwide, and the ETF represents over 250,000 aviation workers in Europe. To find out more visit and

For more details please contact
ETF civil aviation secretary François Ballestero. Tel: +32 (0)2 285 46 65. Email:
ITF press officer, Sam Dawson. Tel: + 44 (0)20 7940 9260. Email:
ETF press officer Koen Reynaerts. Tel: +32 2 285 46 69. Email: