Tsvetan Simeonov: For the Government it is important to know the opinion of the social partners

  • Tsvetan Simeonov: For the Government it is important to know the opinion of the social partners

     The National Social Security Institute confirmed more than 650 000 employees for BCCI, said in an interview for the Bulgarian National Radio the President of BCCI

    Speaking of the Constitutional Court, which systematically corrects the mistakes of policy-makers with at least one similar decision a week, we will now give the floor to the President of BCCI. A while ago we discussed with great relief with Mr. Simeonov that the texts of the Labour Code, which were returned by the Constitutional Court, and the requirements for legitimacy of the social partners were corrected in favour of the oldest employers' organization in the face of BCCI. It turns out, however, that there is a way for this decision not to be put into action at least for now. I understand this from your "worried" letter to Minister Simeon Dyankov, Chairman of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation.

    - Indeed, I would say that democracy in Bulgaria showed that it exists, even though we had to turn to the highest instance – the Constitutional Court. The Court proved that Bulgaria is considered a democratic state for good reasons. The victory in this case was not only a victory of the Chamber, but a victory for Bulgaria, because this decision helped preserve Bulgaria's authority as a country in which freedom of association, taken up as commitment with many conventions and the Constitution of the country, is still observed and adhered to.

    How does a decision of the Constitutional court become a practice? We heard about the budget of the Health Insurance Fund being transferred to the budget of the Ministry of Health. But when it comes to rules and criteria it is very difficult to stop money flow from one account to another. At the moment, the procedure for announcing the legitimate employers' organizations is underway. It started at a time when the rules were different, prior to their annulment by the Constitutional Court. How can you now introduce your organization in this process or is it already too late?
    - It is not a question of introduction at all. First, while the decision of the Constitutional Court was being prepared and the best way to preserve Bulgaria's authority and the constitutional principles of our country was sought, the Council of Ministers, or more precisely the Chairman of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation had to stop the legitimating procedure, because when an act (there is such legal practice, but there is no need to complicate the conversation by citing articles, paragraphs and regulations, it is enough to know that such a practice exists) has been challenged and proceedings have already been instigated in the Constitutional Court, its operation has to be suspended. This had to happen on the second day after the announcement of the decision of the Constitutional Court to take on the case for hearing (the procedure was announced on 07.02 and the decision of the Constitutional Court to hear the case – on 09.02). This was a signal for the operation of the act to be suspended, but this was not done.

    Has this been done now that the final decision of the Court was announced on 19.06?
    - We have of course brought to the attention of, even though not back in February, Minister Dyankov and the Council of Ministers that the action of the Ordinance must be suspended even before the Decision of the Constitutional Court was published. But I don't know whether the Ministry of Labour does not have enough lawyers, or they don't trust the opinion of their legal experts, but we could have spared ourselves a lot, and we are talking about significant expenses. If only during that year there was a little more confidence in the expertise of BCCI and its legal expers, instead of trying to prove who is right and who is wrong, if only a little more trust was granted to the expertise of the International Organization of Employers.

    You are too diplomatic, could you a bit more specific?
    - This time last year a letter from the International Organization of Employers to the Prime Minister was received, stating that the path which was chosen in terms of restricting the freedom of association was not right and would not hold. We received and presented a similar letter from the Association of European Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

    I will immediately ask you why? Perhaps because only "convenient" employers' organizations had to remain at the table for negotiations of the Council for Tripartite Cooperation?
    - It is difficult to say, probably some commitments were made. But I don't like to move ahead while looking back, that is why we wrote the letter, as I mentioned to the Prime Minister and to the Chairman of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation professionally stating what needs to be done.

    You asked them to observe the law and even proposed a solution, in case they were too busy or could not conduct their own research.
    - There is no way for an ordinance issued on the basis of a repealed regulation of higher rank to remain in force. This is once again simply a waste of efforts, once again a case of not trusting the lawyers. Why do we need to challenge the choice from a legal standpoint? Even if some employers' organizations now meet the criteria (here I would like to mention that for BCCI this is not a problem, because we have once again proven that we are the largest organization) and are recognized as legitimate, the path would be open for many other organizations to be able to challenge the legitimacy.

    I have some statistics with me – 52 000 members - employers. These companies and enterprises have 650 000 employees and workers. When does the history of the Chamber date back to?
    - These are the old figures, in the new statistics they are a bit higher – we gave 21 000 companies to the NSSI to check as our members and it was proven that more than 650 000 employees work in them, so this is not a problem. The problem is that the other organizations, which would be selected on the basis of a flawed act, such as an ordinance based on …

    They won't be in their right place and won't be able to do their job.
    - Everyone, i.e. every organization that could qualify in accordance with the new rules – meaning the lower requirements, etc., would be in their right to attack any decision for legitimating any organization, including BCCI, before the Administrative Court. We would not like to be attacked when it is possible to work in a relaxed atmosphere during the remaining 3-4 months to the end of the year. Generally, there is a way for this to happen if the ordinance for the selection of the employers' organizations (to call it this way for convenience) is updated and amended to comply with the new articles of the Labour Code.

    You have offered the most acceptable formula to the Government – to continue to work efficiently with the employers' organization in a problem-solving mode within the Council for Tripartite Cooperation, because as you have mentioned the time is passing quickly and there are many important issues to be discussed. These issues concern not only the price of electricity, which is the most pressing issue of last days, but also the development of economy, protection of the rights of businesses and employees, not to mention that the Budget needs to be discussed on time and not in the 99th minute before Christmas.

    - Meanwhile, in our letter we declared that we would like to work in favour of Bulgarian economy even more energetically. Even though someone might argue that there is now a National Council for Tripartite Cooperation, there are no obstacles to gather in informal settings. For the Government it is important to know the opinion of the social partners, no matter how it reaches them.

    Thank you, with a reminder to Prime Minister Borisov and Deputy Prime Minister Simeon Dyankov of how the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation could work more efficiently after the decision of the Constitutional Court.