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Bulgaria coal miners stay underground to protest layoffs, delayed salaries

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More than 100 Bulgarian coal miners are refusing to come up to the surface from a mine located in the southwest of the country, in an attempt to renegotiate conditions of their planned layoffs and delayed salaries.

More than 100 men refuse to come up even though the mine’s owner says it won’t shut down the operation as planned.

The men, who remain 400-metre (1,300 feet) down at the Babino mine, part of the Bobov Dol mining complex, began the protest when their shift ended on Tuesday morning, local magazine Foreigners & Friends reports.

The publication says that up to 750 miners will lose their job as the pit’s owner, Bulgarian businessman Hristo Kovachki, recently decided to shut two of his underground mines due to their high cost and low efficiency.

Kovachki is said to have cancelled those plans Wednesday, but miners remain underground, refusing to end their strike. According to Reuters, they are concerned that the decision to resume operations is temporary and aimed only at ending the protest.

Bulgaria’s mining industry employed some 24,000 people last year and contributed around 27% of the economy’s gross value-added (GVA), according to the annual report issued in August by the country’s Chamber of Mining and Geology.