(DF) Road Construction Workers Protest over Unpaid Wages

August 13 (BTA) – Legal ways are sought to pay subcontractors for motorway repair work which is suspected to have violated the contracting rules, said the acting President of the Managing Board of the Road Infrastructure Agency, Ivaylo Denchev. He was speaking to reporters as road construction workers protested in Sofia and several other spots across the country over unpaid wages. Denchev said that pushing the budgetary revisions through Parliament would help pay the subcontractors. The protestors were workers of the Avtomagistrali Cherno More company, which they say has not been paid over 36 million leva for motorway repairs. Of that, 7.5 million is owned to some 800 workers in unpaid wages for several months back. All units of the company have stopped work and workers are about to be laid off. Payments to suppliers of fuel and construction materials are also delayed, said the protestors. The protestors briefly blocked an intersection near the government building in central Sofa and a key junction on Hemus Motorway in northeastern Bulgaria. Regional Development Minister Violeta Komitiva said that the company has done its job well but became a victim of the state-owned road construction company Avtomagistrali, which subcontracted it to do work without having money to pay what it had promised. “That creates a serious legal problem because signing contracts when funding is not available violates multiple laws,” Komitova said. For that reason, her Ministry will ask the Prosecution Service if the contract can be considered valid and if the Ministry has a right to make payments for it. Komitova said that money is not available for that anyway and the government is waiting for Parliament to vote budgetary revisions. She said the blame for this situation goes to the formerly ruling GERB party and asked how they planned “to handle the process, because in real life if you don’t have money, you don’t hire construction workers”. LN/