site.btaUPDATED Foreign Ministry Employees' Pay Issue to Be Resolved This Month, PM Says
The pay issue concerning Foreign Ministry employees will be resolved later in December, Prime Minister Galab Donev said during question time in the National Assembly on Friday. He was replying to a question raised by Ekaterina Zaharieva MP of GERB-UDF about the possibility to revise the Foreign Ministry budget to ensure that the diplomatic service functions normally.
Foreign Ministry staffers have been protesting over low pay since October. Their token strike grew into an effective strike on December 2.
Donev said he has asked for an analysis of the regulatory framework and the structure of the Foreign Ministry budget. He said the estimated BGN 16 million to BGN 17 million necessary for a wage update should not be provided as a lump sum.
The Prime Minister commented: "These problems have accumulated over the years. A number of governments have ignored the demands raised by the employees and the Foreign Ministry head office. Far from being resolved, the problems were aggravated." According to him, the Foreign Ministry budget was slashed in 2009. It was not until 2018-2019 that it was raised back to the 2007 level in nominal terms. "This shows how [the powerholders] viewed the remuneration of the staffers and the funding of the diplomatic service," Donev said.
He noted that there are reserves that can be used to adjust wages in the system.
The obligation to update pay rates has been breached both in respect of the Bulgarian diplomatic missions abroad and the Foreign Ministry head office in Sofia, Donev went on to say.
Even while the state budget was being revised earlier this autumn, the ruling majority and the government did not pay attention to the Foreign Ministry's request to adjust wages in the system at least for inflation. The response of the Finance Ministry and the Council of Ministers was that the Foreign Ministry's expenditures needed streamlining, Donev recalled.
"This does not correspond to the goals of the diplomatic service," he commented. "Bulgaria should be diplomatically active and cannot afford to humiliate both the employees here at the Foreign Ministry head office and the out-of-country staffers."