Bulgarian coal miners call off strike
SOFIA Jan 22 (Reuters) - Workers at Bulgaria's biggest coal mines on Sunday called off their strike over bonuses and better work conditions which lasted a week and forced the Balkan country to halt electricity exports to its neighbours to avoid power shortages.
The state-controlled mines in southeastern Bulgaria provide lignite coal for thermal power plants which produce over 45 percent of the electricity in the country which is a regional power hub, exporting about 850 megawatts per hour to Greece, Romania, Serbia and Macedonia and Turkey.
After lengthy talks, the trade unions and the management of the mines agreed that this month workers will receive 2.1 million levs ($1.39 million)in bonuses and the work conditions at the mines will be improved, Valentin Valchev from trade union CITUB told local news agency Focus.
It remains unclear, however, when power exports will be restarted.
"Exports will not be restored immediately after the strike is called off, because (coal) needs to be delivered to the thermal plants," Deputy Economy Minister Delyan Dobrev told private broadcaster bTV. "The obligatory reserves of coal have to be restored (first)." ($1 = 1.5139 Bulgarian levs) (Reporting by Irina Ivanova; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)
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