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600,000 working poor in Bulgaria and lowest minimum wage within EU

БНР Новини
Photo: library

On March 15 we marked the World Consumer Rights Day. This date brings serious thoughts in Bulgaria, especially in relation to purchasing capacity. Latest statistical data and trade unions say it is dramatically low.

More than 30 percent of a bit over 2 million working people in Bulgaria stand in the poverty category with less than EUR 200 per month. At the same time 21 percent of manpower receives salaries below the poverty line. This means that the hourly wage index ranks this country last in the EU with EUR 3.7 per hour. This does not speak well for the standard of living in Bulgaria. Moreover, the country is also ranked last within the EU in terms of its minimum salary – EUR 184 per month.

The Podkrepa trade union used this data to invite for a roundtable their colleagues from the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria /CITUB/, along with representatives of the authorities and employers, in order to discuss the subject on the working poor in this country. Furthermore, Bulgaria was placed under special monitoring with the EC Annual Growth Survey 2015 end-February, due to poverty and excessive social inequality mainly.

It is no wonder, since this country takes the more than modest 48th position out of 142 in the annual rankings of most prosperous countries worldwide, according to the British Legatum Institute. Bulgaria also comes last in terms of labor productivity. Each Bulgarian worker produces on average around EUR 12,000 of GDP, while in Norway with its productivity being the biggest these are EUR 145,000 per worker. This sum is EUR 117,000 for Luxembourg. According to latest official data labor productivity goes up by 1.7 percent on an annual basis.

All participants in the roundtable agreed on one thing – “we need a good working economy, if we don’t want working poor people”. It was said by CEO of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce Bozhidar Danev. Thus the situation is not very optimistic, since the most prestigious economic experts and international institutions, the EC being the top one of those, think that Bulgaria has no particular perspectives for economic growth. It is not that this country is doomed to eternal poverty, but the current state and structure of Bulgarian economy is not capable of generating economic growth, i.e. to increase the wealth of Bulgarians. That is the motivation behind the insistent appeals for urgent, deep and most likely socially painful reforms of the Bulgarian public and economic structures. The EU even judged that it had to control and guide these changes, as the community is grounded on the principle of solidarity and nobody is very happy with the idea of neighbors, wallowing in misery and always complaining.

English version: Zhivko Stanchev

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