Continued German-Bulgarian cooperation for fair working conditions

D. Baller/BMAS

State Secretary Dr. Rolf Schmachtenberg, Vice-Minister Ivan Krastev and moderator Dr. Julia Kropf (f.r.t.l.)

On 12 May 2022, Bulgarian and German experts met for a conference at the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs in Berlin. Together with State Secretary Dr Rolf Schmachtenberg and Ivan Krastev, Vice-Minister at the Bulgarian Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and with representatives of public bodies and civil society, the experts discussed fair working conditions for mobile workers.

Mobile workers from Bulgaria often face breaches of minimum working conditions or occupational safety and health as well as hygiene standards while working in Germany. The coronavirus pandemic has acted like a magnifying glass for these problems. Germany’s and Bulgaria’s history of partnership has made it possible to improve these conditions.

Vice-Minister Krastev described results-oriented cooperation with Germany: We are working together in a spirit of understanding and trust.

The conference also took stock of the implementation of the bilateral 2021/2022 work plan and looked at cooperation options at the European level. There are many success stories already. State Secretary Schmachtenberg mentioned the Occupational Safety and Health Inspection Act that entered into force in January 2021. With this Act we are improving conditions in the meat industry in concrete ways as well as occupational safety and health, including in other sectors.

Cosmin Boiangiu, the Executive Director of the European Labour Authority (ELA), promised support by ELA: We support member states’ efforts to protect mobile workers. At present, the transport sector is one of our priorities.

Dr Annette Niederfranke, Director at the International Labour Organization (ILO) and head of the ILO’s office in Germany, outlined the ILO’s activities in the fight against human trafficking for labour exploitation. In her keynote address, she stressed the following point: It is primarily the task of nation states to protect mobile workers. What is needed are clear and binding rules.

Vice-Minister Krastev and State Secretary Schmachtenberg concluded that both sides benefit for intensive cooperation, direct communication and personal contacts. They agreed to continue to work together.