Bulgarian museums, libraries and galleries hold ‘day of discontent’ over low salaries

Bulgarian museums, libraries and galleries hold ‘day of discontent’ over low salaries

Sofia, November 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

Employees of Bulgaria’s museums, galleries, community cultural centres and libraries were holding a “day of discontent” on November 24 in protest against their low salaries and the budget allocation for the sector.

The protest was organised by two trade union confederations, Podkrepa and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria.

Close to 3000 people are employed in 204 museums and galleries in Bulgaria, of whom 1038 are specialists with tertiary education. The starting salary of a museum specialists with a master’s degree is 400 leva – about 204 euro. This represents the lowest salary among all categories of graduates in the country.

According to the unions, the allocation for the sector in the 2016 draft national Budget amounts to only about 15 to 20 million leva.

The protests were taking various forms, including “open days” at museums and galleries with no admission fees being charged. Protesting employees were also to issue declarations and display posters.

Protesters called on the Bulgarian public to visit the museums to symbolically show support for their demands.

Employees say that unless there are satisfactory negotiations, resulting in an increased share of the national Budget and significantly increased salaries, they are prepared to embark on a strike in January.

In the Black Sea city of Bourgas, on November 24 about 150 employees of museums, libraries and community reading rooms protested against their low salaries, holding posters including “decent pay for decent work” and “do not humiliate us with a minimum wage”.

At the National History Museum in Sofia, participants in the protest were to symbolically “arrest” museum director Bozhidar Dimitrov.

The landmark Saints Cyril and Methodius National Library in central Sofia has scheduled its protest for December 10.