Using ILO Mechanisms to Implement the Labour Code for Homeworkers in Bulgaria

Using ILO Mechanisms to Implement the Labour Code for Homeworkers in Bulgaria

In 2009, Bulgaria ratified the ILO Home Work Convention (C177) and Recommendation (R184) – and amended its Labour Code. However, it has not enforced the legislation and according to the trade union, UNITY (TUSIW "Edinstvo"), the government argues that the legislation does not apply to homeworkers because they do not have contracts.

jewery - home-based worker, BulgariaHomeworkers Gather in Petrich to Create Platform of Demands
In August 2018, WIEGO and UNITY (the Bulgarian Trade Union of Self-employed and Informal Workers) ran a three-day workshop in Petrich, Bulgaria. Homeworkers from three regions in the country attended. The workshop provided a forum for homeworkers to create a platform of demands, which formed the basis of a report that they  submitted to the ILO, the Bulgarian government, the employer organizations, and the trade union federations KNSB/CITUB, by 1 September 2018.

As UNITY is a registered trade union, it may submit reports directly to the ILO commenting on whether the government has fulfilled C177. UNITY will also be submitting a research paper prepared by WIEGO on homeworkers' working conditions.

Historical Efforts to Implement C177 in Bulgaria

Any government that ratifies an ILO Convention must report on its progress towards implementation two years after ratification, and every five years thereafter. The Bulgarian government submitted its first report to the ILO Committee of Experts in 2012; it stated that C177 was the result of a National Agreement. The Committee of Experts responded with the following observations/questions:

  • A request for a copy of the National Agreement;
  • A request for available statistics on homeworkers, and for research/evidence on the conditions of homeworkers; and 
  • Assurance that the legislation prevented children from working and provided women with maternity leave.

The Government of Bulgaria failed to respond. These requests were repeated in 2013 and 2014. In 2014, WIEGO assisted UNITY in writing a letter to the ILO, setting out its views. This letter is mentioned in the official report of the Committee of Experts, and in 2014, the Committee asked the Government of Bulgaria to respond to Unity’s allegations. The Bulgarian government was obliged to submit its next report on 1 September 2018.

About UNITY (TUSIW "Edinstvo")
The Trade Union of Self-Employed and Informal Workers (UNITY) was launched in 2014 to address the low wages, job insecurity, poor working conditions and lack of access to social security benefits faced by self-employed home-based workers, homeworkers and other informal workers. It aims to ensure the rights of informal workers and the self-employed are protected, improve their working conditions and access to social security benefits, improve statistical data collection on informal workers, and work with state institutions to implement more protective legislation.

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