1907 - The Need of Trade Unions in Bulgaria and Their Organization
Source: Georgi Dimitrov, Selected Works Sofia Press, Sofia, Volume 1, 1972, pp. 7-22
Transcription/HTML Markup: Mathias Bismo
Online Version: MLM Library (http://library.redspark.nu/1907_-_The_Need_of_Trade_Unions_in_Bulgaria_and_Their_Organization) 2016
It is not for the first time that the question of the formation of trade unions is being raised in our country. As early as 1894, as a result of the efforts of the Social Democratic Party to organize the printing workers who had grown restless at that time, the Central Workers' Trade Union was set up in Sofia, with branches in the provinces. However, after the Sofia general printers' strike and the strikes in Roussé and Varna this newly-founded trade union went to pieces. It was destroyed at its' very inception by the anarchic movement of the printers. Around 1900, when the printers' trade union was re-established and a few other trade union organizations were set up in Sofia, the question of their unification with those existing in the provinces into trade unions was again put forward. It was considered at that time that several trade unions should be set up first, with the General Trade Union then emerging from among their midst, as happened in the more advanced Western nations. Attempts were made first to form a printers' union which was to serve as a model to the unions of blacksmiths, carpenters, tailors, etc. These attempts, however, encountered insurmountable obstacles in the weak development of capitalist production. The small trade union groups, scattered all over the country, which were actually educational circles, did not feel directly and strongly the need of a trade union organization. The Sofia trade union associations, which should have formed the basis of the trade unions, were in their early phase of stabilization, in a weak and insecure condition. The trade union organization affected practilly only the artisan workers. The trade-union-organized struggle was in its initial stage. The Workers' Social Democratic Party, which until then, owing to the petty bourgeois character of our country, had been almost entirely engrossed in political propaganda among the petty bourgeoisie, was just beginning to pay more serious attention to the needs of the workers' movement. On the other hand, the fateful struggle against the bourgeois influence of the Right-Wing Socialists in the ranks of the Party and the ensuing Party and trade union splits in 1903 relegated the question of the unification of the local trade union associations either into trade unions or into a General Trade Union somewhat to the background.
Experience shows clearly that under the then prevailing conditions within the trade union movement it was impossible to form individual trade unions. The only form of orgafor the unification of the trade union associations into a whole was the General Trade Union. And when after our split with the Right-Wing Socialists the workers' move which had grown stronger at that time, called for a unification of the trade unions, the foundations of the General Workers' Trade Union were laid in 1904. Moreover, as it was impossible to form individual trade unions in most of the towns, mixed trade unions were formed which are a transitional form in organizing the workers in trade unions.
Having anticipated the establishment of trade unions, the General Trade Union had to assume many of their functions. But as the mixed trade unions, owing to their heterogeneous composition, are not able adequately to fulfil the task of a trade union organization, so also the General Trade Union, although playing a very important role in the organization and unification of the trade union movement in our country and in intensifying the general class struggle, cannot successfully and adequately perform the work of the individual trade unions. The sooner the latter are set up and take over their functions from the Union, the more successthese functions will be performed and the better it will be able to devote itself to its special task - as general organand leader of the trade union movement, as an idea unthe organization of the broad masses of factory workers, the bulk of whom are still unorganized, and draw them under its banner.
The question of the trade unions was again put forward at the trade union congress last year. Without going into greater detail, the congress adopted in principle the necessity and feasibleness of such unions under the new conditions and recommended to the local trade union associations able to do so to proceed to the formation of trade unions. To this end, the Trade Union Committee drew up a special trade union draft constitution during the current year. After studying the question in detail, the Sofia printers' trade union, in agreement with the existing printers' groups and sections of the mixed trade unions in the provinces, laid the foundations of the printers' trade union. After all this, this year the fourth trade union congress will deal specially with the question of the formation of trade unions and will have to give a definite instruction to the trade union associations along this line.
It is clear to everybody that today this question is being put forward under conditions quite different from those of a few years ago. With the development of capitalist production and the passing over of some crafts to a more or less capitalist form of production, the number of factories has considerably increased, and big workshops were opened with many more workers. The constant shifting of workers from one town to another, from one branch of production to another, shows all too clearly the close link between the interests of the Sofia and provincial workers. The workers' movement on the whole and the trade union movement in particular are assuming a mass character. The struggle is now waged not only against individual masters, but against their organizations as well - the crafts and the industrial associations. The latter also rely on the support of the state with all its organs - police, army, chambers of commerce and industry, etc. As an illustration we can point out, apart from many other strikes, the strike of the Pernik miners1) and the general railwaymen's3) strike. The individual strikes are growing into struggles for wage scales. There is already a strong movement among tobacco, textile and other factory workers. In order to oppose the strikers' movement, besides everything else, the bosses, irrespective of their party differences, formed a common bloc against the workers' strikes,3) against which we shall have to battle.
On the other hand, the enlistment of the workers in our union has made considerable progress. The number of trade union associations is growing more rapidly than that of the mixed ones. Most of the former have already stepped firmly on their feet. They are being speedily transformed from primarily educational organizations, as they were before, into real trade union associations, which seriously look upon improving working conditions and promoting the consclass struggle against hired labour. Here, however, they are confronted with the impossibility of further spreading their influence among the workers of their own trade and of combating more successfully the ruthless exploitation, bethey do not dispose of the power and means of the orgaworkers of their trade on a national basis, i. e. because they have not been transformed into trade unions.
Under these new conditions the trade union movement needs a new organization. To preserve the status quo means to check the progress of the workers' movement in general. And this is quite obvious. A strike must be properly organized, must be able to rely on the general solidarity of the workers of a given trade throughout the country and on their moral and material support, in order to be successful, both practically and ideologically. This, however, can be achieved in good time and with success, when the workers of the same trade scattered all over the country constitute an organized whole, pooling their efforts and means and directing them towards the same goal. The preliminary study and appraisal of the conditions for every prospective strike will then be more exact and certain, because the Union with its statistical data on the conditions of production, the number of workers, organized and unorganized, etc.., not only locally, but nationally, will host be able to judge whether or not a strike should be started. When there are trade unions, many of the hitherto quite unprepared and often senseless strikes will not be declared, and the necessary organization will more easily be introduced in the strikes. In strikes headed by the trade unions the bosses will not be able to count on hiring workers in the provinces as scabs or on moving their enterprises to other towns, because they will know that they are up against a national workers' union.4)
Moreover, a major reason for the failure of almost all unsuccessful strikes has been the low percentage of organized workers and the presence of a large number of unorworkers, from among whom the bosses have hitherto been able to recruit plenty of scabs. We shall be able to attract these masses of workers to our ranks through a strong and steadily exercised influence. The trade unions will then be much better able to carryout a broad socialist propaganda, both oral and through the press, among the workers of their trade, than at present the different trade union associations and particularly the mixed ones. Their attractive force will be greater: 1) because they will embrace workers from all towns; 2) because the numerous workers who are now members of the educational groups in towns where even mixed trade union associations cannot be formed, as well as those at factories situated far away from the towns, will be able to join the unions and thus increase considerably their financial and moral force. Such workers are to be found in Bourgas, Aitos, Karnobat, Nova Zagora, Harmanli, Chirpan, Kazanluk, Gorna Oryahovitsa, Gabrovo, Radomir, Samokov, Trun, Breznik, Peshtera, Kocherinovo, Panagyurishté, Toutrakan, Belyovo, Banya Kostenets, Sestrimo, Dolna Banya, and other localities. Among them there are over 500 to 600 organized workers - tailors, shoemakers, carpenters, blacksmiths, printers, etc.., who are not members of any trade union association, and 3) because the unions will be able to undertake more successpractical campaign in favour of the workers and to reach broader masses of unorganized workers with their propaganda and agitation.
All this will be of great help in enlisting in our ranks the sound elements of the Right-Wing Socialists and in preserving them now that the Right-Wing Socialist Party is disintegrating under the influence of the Radical Democrats who, after having adopted the theory and practice of that party, are out to inherit its influence among the workers.
On the other hand, by performing all trade union functions (organizing and financing strikes, assisting the unemployed, the ill and travelling workers, propaganda, and agi etc..) better than the individual trade union associ the trade unions will be able with much greater success to fight against unemployment - this terrible scourge for the working class. A product of capitalist production, unemployment will not be completely eliminated so long as the present order prevails. But the workers' organis in a position to mitigate to a large extent the dire consequences of unemployment. This can be achieved by assisting the unemployed and travelling workers, by organizing employment agencies and collecting statistical data on the conditions of employment. The centralized forces and funds of the trade union, however, are needed for the purpose.
Consequently, from the viewpoint of trade union organising and the workers' trade union struggle, the necessity of establishing trade union is imperative.
But this is not all. As is well known, the improvements which we are trying to introduce in the working conditions by means of the trade union struggle, are not an end in themselves, but only a means of intensifying and more successfully waging the general class struggle, for the complete abolition of hired slavery. From this only correct viewpoint, the trade union movement is of value insofar as it helps to promote the emancipatory class struggle. The interests of the latter, however, dictate with no less exigency a concentration of the trade union associations into trade unions.
At present the working class is living through an important and crucial moment. Its political activity is strongly circumscribed. It is up against a reactionary legislation. The reactionary artisan law pales before the much more reactionary laws against the strikes, against the association of the state workers and against the press. The ruling and the oppositionary bourgeoisie close their ranks and make common cause against the workers' organization and their struggle. It has learned from us and from our struggles against it to organize itself, but now, supported by the state, it is trying to outdo us in this respect. The bourgeoisie is showing a higher class consciousness than we, workers.
While part of the working class is dragging a ong behind notorious demagogues and petty bourgeois politicians in blocs and other bourgeois campaigns, the bourgeoisie is unaniforging laws and chains against our emancipatory movement and forms a bloc against strikes.
To restore and safeguard the rights of the working class, to parry the blows of the bourgeoisie, to paralize its influence among the workers and to obtain ever more favourable conditions for the existence and the class struggle of the Bulgarian proletariat, trade union organizations are needed with centralized funds and forces. A united bloc of the working class under the banner of social democracy must be firmly opposed to the bloc of the ruling and oppositionary bourgeoisie against the organized workers' movement. A necessary prerequisite for this is the unification of the trade union groups and workers scattered all over the country in trade unions. The trade unions will penetrate broader masses of workers, will broaden and deepen their influence over them, will help to make their struggle more conscientious and sucand will promote their unification under the banner of social democracy. In this way the general class struggle of the Bulgarian proletariat will be more united and powerful.
Thus, without going into greater detail, the interests of the trade union struggle, as well as those of the entire emancipatory workers' movement call most insistently for the formation of trade unions as part of the General Workers' Trade Union.
Of course, this new organization will include only those trade union associations which can now or in the near future be transformed into unions, as, for instance, the printers', metal workers', tailors', shoemakers', carpenters', tobacco workers', textile workers', etc.., trade union associations. Even after the formation of trade unions, many trade union associations will remain in their present state, owing to the impossibility of being transformed into trade unions. These trade union associations will gradually, with the creation of favourable conditions, be united into trade unions.
What the organization of trade unions in Bulgaria should be like, we shall see next time.
The question about the organization of the trade unions depends closely on their purpose, character and tasks.
As is well known, the socialist trade union organizations, unlike the bourgeois ones, having as their special purpose to fight for better working conditions within the framework of capitalist exploitation, at the same time direct all their efforts, under the banner of the general political organization of the working class - social democracy, on the radical abolition of exploitation itself. They cannot confine themselves to their professional struggle on the basis of present conditions and transcend the limits of capitalist society, fully aware of the fact that so long as the latter exist: 1) there can be no genuine, lasting and general improvement in all walks of life of the working class, and 2) whatever improvements and reforms are achieved, the workers will remain a subordinate and exploited class with a very insecure existence. The reforms which are possible under the existing capitalist system cannot do away with the basic evils springing from this very system, such as anarchy in production, competition, unemployment, etc.., which cause so much suffering to the working class and to society as a whole. That is why, in fighting to restrict capitalist exploitation, the socialist trade unions take an active part, with all their forces and funds, in the general struggle of the working class for the destruction of hired slavery, for the freedom of labour, and the triumph of socialism.
The fighting working class, however, is up against the whole bourgeoisie with its economic and political organizations, with its state and the latter's numerous organs. All this is strictly centralized and pursues one general goal: to consolidate the economic and political might of the bourgeoisie and to deal continuous blows to the emancipatory workers' movement so as to prevent it from fulfilling its historic tasks. For the purpose the bourgeoisie, through the centralized political power of the state, encroaches upon the rights of the working class, passes a whole series of laws restricting the workers' movement and subjects the workers' organizations and individual workers to persecuand violence, especially at the crucial moments in the class struggle. At the same time the bourgeoisie strives by means of demagogy and of its bankrupt science, as well as of certain concessions and reforms of minor significance, to corrupt and disorganize the working class, placing certain strata and parts of the latter under its influence, making use of them for its own factious and class aims and pitting them against the class conscious workers' movement.
Under these circumstances, if the workers' movement is to be preserved, become stabilized and successfully fulfil its tasks and achieve its final goal, centralization is a necescondition, i. e. the workers must be organized under a common banner, their efforts must be directed to a common goal, they must lead a unanimous struggle, in other words, must be faced by the still more centralized forces of the working class, the centralized forces of the bourgeoisie. That is why the class-conscious proletariat in its general struggle sticks to the principle of centralization.
In all the countries in which the trade union movement has developed under the influence of social democracy as a workers' class movement, the trade unions are organized on the principle of centralization. The centralized union conof workers from the whole country. It has a common constitution, a common treasury, a common central adminis etc.. In Germany, Austria, Italy, etc.., most of the strongest unions are centralized. Even in neighbouring Ser where the prevailing conditions are much like those in Bulgaria, a centralized form of organization in the trade unions has been adopted. The predominant trend in the development of trade union movement everywhere is that the more it becomes a class-conscious movement and the more deeply it is pervaded by a socialist spirit, the more the organization of the trade unions proceeds along centralist lines. The historical experience of the trade union movement in the other countries shows that under a centralized trade union organization the workers' struggle is very powerful, because it is unified. And this is quite obvious. In a centralunion the workers of a given trade who have a common organization, a common principle, a common leadership, ;ire capable of quick and common action, directing their efall the time towards a common goal. In the centralunions every disunity and diversity of action of their separate parts are precluded, things of which the enemies of the working class usually take advantage. Hence, the more the forces of the individual bosses and the bosses' orof the entire bourgeoisie and its state are centralized to fight against the workers' movement, the more it becomes necessary for the workers to be organized in centralunions all their forces to be united into a single whole, and together, with the necessary speed, to direct their weaagainst their strong and well-organized enemies in the person of the present bourgeois state and the various capitalist organizations, trusts, etc..
Besides centralized unions, there are also in some countries federative unions. This form of organization is developed chiefly in France, owing to certain historical and political conditions. The federative union is formed by independent trade union associations, which have their own constitution, leadership and treasures. They unite on certain special terms, outside of which every trade union association preserves complete autonomy in its activity. At any moment the individual trade union association can leave the federation and even declare itself against it. That is why the federative union cannot be a sound and permanent organization like the centralized union. The forces of the federative union are limited and scattered. A common consciousness does not exist in its ranks, nor a strong discipline and one cannot rely on a sure unity of action at the crucial moments in the struggle. The federative form of organization is much to the liking of the bourgeoisie. And not in vain. If we examine the history of this form of organizain the trade union movement, we shall see that it was always the result of the efforts of the bourgeoisie to keep the workers' organizations in its own hands, on the one hand, and, on the other, of the lack of consciousness and the selfishness of the workers, who are not conscious of their common class interests and refuse to subordinate their personal and group interests to the general interests of the workers' move The idea of the federative organization of workers has the same origin as the idea of the neutrality of trade union associations. The bourgeoisie can most easily attain its anti-workers' goals in the workers' movement when the latter is neutral towards social democracy and has a federative organization, because then it cannot be effectively mobilized and make use in its struggle of all the forces which are at the disposal of the working class, and because the disunity, the autonomy of the individual trade union groups enables the bourgeoisie to mislead the weaker among them and to pit them against the federation itself and the entire emancipatory workers' movement. With the federative form of organization, as well as with the neutrality of the trade union associations, the bourgeoisie aims at transformthe trade union movement from a factor for the liberof the working class into a factor for the consolidation of the system of capitalist exploitation and, along with this, the hired slavery of the working class.
In Bulgaria the trade union associations were not only formed under the influence of social democracy, but were in large measure its own creations. The bourgeoisie is only now beginning to think of organizing the workers into trade unions under its own banner. On the other hand, at their very inception the Bulgarian trade union associations had a socialist character, the character of class organizations following the example of the socialist trade union movein the ether countries. The trade union neutrality, preached by the different factions of the bourgeoisie suffered, complete fiasco. Especially now, under the new political conditions in our country, i. e. with the bourgeoisie pursuing a conscious, consistent class and reactionary policy with regard to the workers' movement, the utter inconsisof neutrality becomes obvious. Our trade union move which has hitherto successfully adopted the most modern and tested forms of organization and methods of struggle, would commit a big and unpardonable error if, under our existing historical and political conditions, it were to adopt a form of organization in its trade unions like the federative one, which would directly hamper the proper development and rapid consolidation of the movement and would expose it to the anti-worker endeavours of the bourgeoisie.
Centralization is the mere necessary in our country also because of the weakness of the movement itself, which is in great need of strong central bodies, so as to be able to adsuccessfully in its individual weak parts. If placed on centralist principles, our trade unions will be able, by having greater financial means, moral forces and efficient bodies at their disposal, to carry on a fruitful propaganda and agitation in order to raise the class consciousness of their members and rid them of many prejudices and politfallacies.
The centralized form is also quite in tune with the state of our production, Viable trade union associations cannot be formed in most of the trades in the provinces, because the number of workers who can be organized is insufficient for the purpose. And the federative organization, even assumit were not harmful, requires as a prerequisite the existof such trade union associations.
It is clear, however, that the only and most suitable form of organization of trade unions in our country, bearing in mind our historical and political conditions and the expeof the West European trade union movement, is the centralized form. Only as centralized organizations will our trade unions develop properly and thus become powerful and militant trade union associations.
How the organization of the unions will work out in practice can be clearly seen from the draft constitution drawn up by the Trade Union Committee and sent to all trade union associations for a thorough study. According to it, the trade union is simply an association which unites the workers of a given trade not only in one town, but on a nation-wide basis. Local groups will be formed in all towns which have at least seven members. In towns where there are at least four members, proxies will be appointed, through whom the members will get into contact with the central management. Where there are less than four members, they will enrol directly at the central management. The draft constitution solves more or less successfully all difficulties which are encountered with regard to the manageand control of union affairs, the treasury, grants, strikes, etc..
But we shall dwell on this problem, as well as on the more substantial obstacles to the formation of trade unions in our country, in the next issue.
Some consider the small number of organized workers of the different trades as the foremost obstacle to the forof viable trade unions in Bulgaria. It is enough, however, to know the real state of affairs in order to underthat this consideration is groundless. Although the number of organized workers in the General Trade Union is still not very large, in some trades it is enough to set the foundations of trade unions. Thus, for instance, today there are about 290 metal workers, 300 textile workers, 150 tobacco workers, 400 tailors, 120 carpenters, 390 shoemakers and 140 printers organized in different trade union and mixed asso as well as in educational workers' groups. This number can be further increased, for it constitutes only four per cent of all workers engaged in the above trades. Regardof this, new categories of workers become more active and organized. Such are the stone-cutters, miners, the roadand railwaymen, etc.. Capitalist production is rapidly expanding in Bulgaria, large masses of workers concentrate in factories and other industrial enterprises and the conditions for a mass trade union movement are already at hand. On the other hand, the General Trade Union, after being exempted from the tasks entrusted to the different trade unions, will be able to devote more time and attention to the organization of the bulk of factory workers, men, women and children, and thus conditions will be created for the establishment of such trade unions, which are impossible at present not because there are not enough workers in a given industry, but because hitherto no planned agitation and propaganda has been carried out among them.
A real obstacle to the formation of the unions constituted the question of their management. We all know that in the trade union there is more work and the tasks of the central management as leader, organizer, agitator and propagandist are more numerous and difficult than those of an ordinary management. For the successful implementation of these tasks wider knowledge and greater experience are needed than those which most of our trade union comrades have at present. Moreover, suitable comrades are needed for the local managements throughout the country and more particularly proxies wherever groups will not be formed. All this is indeed a serious obstacle, but this will in large measure be removed at the start and later will be comeliminated. In the first place, there are already sufficient numbers of trade union members who are rapidly being educated and who within a short time will be able to get satisfactorily prepared to take part in the management of the unions as secretaries, treasurers, etc.. The trade union committee, on its part, will also lend its full support and give the necessary instructions to the central managements. In the provinces the groups and proxies will rely on the cooperation of the local workers' councils and the managements of the educational workers' groups. The present sections of the mixed trade unions, when they become groups under the trade unions, will have the experience acquired before, which will stand them in good stead in their new work.
Another obstacle is the question of the financial support of the unions. Their broader activity will call for paid offi secretaries, etc.., who, only if they devote themselves exclusively to union work, will be able to make use of all their forces and capacities for the development and consolidation of the union. Moreover, agencies for the jobless should be organized, trade union organs published and sums should be set aside for annual meetings, for a stepped up agitation and propaganda, etc.. All this would require substantial financial funds which, very naturally, the newlytrade unions will not have at first. It is wrong, however, to suppose that the unions will by all means have to start working from the very onset on such a wide scale. On the contrary, temporarily there will be no paid secretaor other officials. The work will be done without any remuneration, as it is now the case in the trade union asso The secretaries and treasurers will be given a sufficient number of assistants, their work will be organized more simply and in this way until the unions do not get stabilized financially they will fulfil their duties comparasuccessfully only during their free hours. As a transitional measure a sort of secretariat could later be organized in Sofia, maintained by the Party organization and the formunions and trade union associations. As a matter of fact, there should be one paid secretary and treasurer at the Sofia Party organization who could help in the office, administrative and organizational work of the unions and trade union associations. Once the unions develop and become stabilized, they will find the necessary means to maintheir own offices, secretaries, etc.. Likewise not all unions will from the very onset start publishing their own organs. At first they might use the general trade union organ Rabotnicheski Vestnik, leaflets and special circular letters, and later, once they become stabilized, they might have papers of their own.
The question of membership fees also constltutes a serious obstacle. The formation of the unions will lead to a certain increase in the membership fees of provincial workers who now pay very low membership fees in the mixed trade union associations, as well as in most other trade union associations. This increase will be difficult in most trades due to the low workers' wages. But here again the difficulties are surmountable. An average weekly membership fee will be determined which, without being too small, will not be too great a burden on the provincial workers whose wages are low. Since at present in certain places there is a big difference in the wages of workers belonging to the same trade in the various towns. two kinds of memfees can be introduced - whole and half. Workers receiving a salary of less than 40 leva a month shall pay, say, a half fee, and those receiving a higher monthly sala- a whole fee. Moreover, the increased number of union members will also swell the revenues of the unions, which will enable them to meet their financial obligations even when they have not very high but medium membership fees. On the other hand, the development of capitalist produc its influence on the crafts, as well as the struggle of the unions, will lead to ironing out the differences in working and living conditions throughout the country and will gradually enable all members to pay an equal membership fee with equal ease.
We could point out also certain other minor obstacles with which we shall positively have to grapple when setting up trade unions, but these will be eliminated still more easily and that is why we shall not dwell on them here.
The difficulties outlined above are indeed serious but, as we saw, they are all surmountable. They do not give anyone sufficient ground to conclude that the setting up of trade unions in Bulgaria is impossible at present or that it would be rash to proceed with their formation. Neither the one nor the other is true. These obstacles only go to show that the foundation of unions will be a tough job, the successful implementation of which calls for great efforts, attention and perseverence.
This year's trade union congress is faced, therefore, with the task, after examining thoroughly the question of the formation of trade unions and the character of their organi of instructing the trade union associations along the following line: 1) to proceed to the formation of trade unions beginning with those trades in which conditions for this are the ripest, and 2) the unions thus formed to be centralaccording to the basic stipulations contained in the draft constitution drawn up by the trade union committee. The question of trade unions is a question of paramount imfor the organization of the trade union movement in our country and its proper development. That is why, in concluding our notes on it, we are far from assuming that it has been exhausted. This important organizational question will indeed be further elucidated at the congress and will more particularly be examined at the trade union conferences which, however, will still be insufficient. To explain it to all trade union members, its discussion will have to be continued after the congress, at meetings and in the press. According to us, it is particularly necessary that some of our more experienced comrades, who are acquainted with the history, organization and struggles of the trade unions in the other countries more closely and more in detail, give a fuller explanation.
Once the question of trade unions in our country is thus elucidated and properly resolved, we shall be able boldly to proceed, side by side with the already formed prinunion, to the foundation of successive unions of meworkers, textile workers, tobacco workers, tailors, shoemak etc.., profoundly convinced that this modest beginning will contribute greatly to the building up of the magnificent edifice of the socialist trade union movement in Bulgaria.
1) On June 18, 1906, the miners of Pernik, headed by Georgi Dimitrov, went on strike, demnading among other things, the right to set up their own trade unions. They recieved nation-wide support from the workers, who organizaed meetings, rallies and collected strike funds. The 35-day strike achieved its main purpose - the Miners' Trade Union was founded, thus giving a strong impetus to the trade union movement in Bulgaria.
2) On December 20, 1906, the railwaymen spontaneously went on strike, the biggest until then in the annals of bulgaria. It was preceded by a petition to the National Assembly, signed by more than 3,000 workers and employees, but Prime Minister Dimiter Petkov refused to recieve the delegation. Instead, the government hastened to pass two laws, the one forbidding state workers to strike, and theother depriving them of their pension in case they take part in strikes, as well as of their right to organize in trade unions and to publish their own newspapers. The bourgeois opposition tried to take advantage of the 42-day strike to overthrow the Petkov Government. Railwaymen's Trade Union, under the guidance of the Party joined the strike but did not head it, confining itself to publishing a leaflet in which it exposed the demagogical policy of the bourgeois opposition parties.
3) Under the headline 'A Strike-Breaker Bloc' several bourgeois papers announced in February 1907 that the organizations of industrialists, tradesmen and craftsmen were negotiating to form a bloc for an all-out fight against strikes. A committee, composed of prominent members of these organizations, was set up for the purpose.
4) In 1898 during the general printing workers' strike in Paris, part of the owners of printing houses moved to the provinces where there were unorganized workers and in this way avoided accepting the demands of the workers.