Trade Unions in Bulgaria

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Trade unions in Bulgaria: old but young

The trade union movement in Bulgaria emerged after the end of the Russo-Turkish War in 1878. The first to organise were teachers, followed by print workers who took strike action, dissatisfied with pay and poor working conditions. In subsequent years workers from different industries came together to form trade union organisations. At first, they were associated with the socialist parties in the country, but in 1924 they merged and declared independence.

After the Soviet-backed ‘Socialist Revolution of 9 September 1944’ the Fatherland Front (OF) took power and established a people’s republic. Private property was nationalised and the other parties were liquidated. New unions were established and all workers came together in the General Workers' Trade Union (GWTU), strongly linked to the Communist party. Some pro-worker legislation was adopted at that time, which partially remains in force today.

In 1987 certain autonomy was granted to trade unions that allowed for decisions on tasks and operations to be owned by the unions. As a result two national trade unions emerged – the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and the Confederation of Labour Support (CL Podkrepa) – reviving the trade union movement in Bulgaria. So, trade unions in Bulgaria have a long history – but are young at the same time.