Bulgaria’s National Ombudsman Maya Manolova referred to the Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov in relation to the unpaid wages and the violated rights of workers in the shoe-making factory „Abondantsa“ in the town of Dupnitsa.
In February, more than 100 workers protested over unpaid wages in Dupnitsa. They asked the national ombudsman Maya Manolova for assistance. An agreement was reached according to which the management of the company, the Italian businessman Luigino Capriotti, promised he would pay the full amount to the workers by the end of the year, in four installments. The first installment was supposed to arrive last Friday, 10th of March. The Italian businessman has not paid the last three wages to the workers. Some of them were supposed to receive 2,000 BGN each.
On 17th of March, the ombudsman sent letters to the National Social Security Institute (NSSI), the National Revenue Agency (NRA) and the General Labour Inspectorate Executive Agency asking for elimination of the violations by the employer.
On 17th of February, 2017, with the assistance of the ombudsman, an agreement was signed between the Italian businessman Luigino Capriotti, the manager of the company and representatives of the workers in the factory for the payment of the delayed wages and indemnities. The payment was agreed to be made in 4 installments and the first was supposed to be paid on 10th of March. The businessman requested to postpone the payment for a week.
On 15th of March, a team of the ombudsman visited Dupnitsa again and talked with the workers and Luigino Capriotti, who explained the payment was delayed because the owner of the company would arrive on Thursday, 16th of March, and would then pay the first installment. However, no payment was made on that day and the ombudsman undertook measures, as promised, and referred the case to the Chief Prosecutor and the relevant authorities.
The Italian businessman owes more than 150,000 BGN to the tailors for wages.
Workers from the factory said they tried to contact their ex-employer Luigiono Capriotti but his phone was switched off. Some said they noticed he made attempts to move out machines from the factory building. The workers guess he has already left the country.
BNT has made a series of coverages on the issues in the garment industry in the country. According to a report by an NGO, in Bulgaria, the payment in the sector is lower than in China.
The investigation on the labour rights violations is on-going. So far, BNT has showen stories of workers in clothing factories who work between 12-15 per day, sometimes 6 days a week and receive the minimum wage, an illegal practice which defines the problem as exploitation of labour.
The largest number of registered clothing factories is in the South-West of Bulgaria, where BNT filmed most of the stories. Sources have provided information on more violations by employers. According to them, a common practice among employers is the owner of the clothing factory to declare insolvency and then register a new company under a different name. This way, employers avoid paying wages to their workers. Similar case was reported for a shoe- making workshop in the town of Dupnitsa last month.
Non-payment of wages is one of the most serious violations of the Labour code. Despite that, many garment workers dо not get paid and engage in legal proceedings and lawsuits which take years