For years, Germany has imported thousands of underpaid workers from Eastern Europe, as the EU’s richest country seeks to solve its care crisis on the cheap. Now, a Bulgarian care worker and her trade union are taking that model to court — hoping to abolish the sector’s notoriously exploitative practices.
Madlen Nikolova is a doctoral student at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Sheffield and a member of Collective for Social Interventions, Sofia.
More than three months since they began, the daily anti-corruption protests against Boyko Borissov’s administration are still headline news in Bulgaria. But the rival corruption allegations leveled by both the Left and Right also highlight the lack of real political alternatives — with the country’s harsh social inequality and rising poverty levels drawing no similar political attention.
Photos of Eastern Europeans flown West to pick strawberries despite the lockdown has focused attention on the plight of the EU’s migrant farm laborers. But as some of these workers told Jacobin, traveling across Europe to make ends meet isn’t new — it’s just much more dangerous now.
Captured on a thousand Instagram feeds, the UFO-like monument to the Bulgarian Communist Party is one of the Eastern Bloc’s most famous architectural relics. A battle to save it from decay has brought Bulgaria’s past back into political debate — and highlighted the death of the radicalism that motivated the project to start with.
The fight against the neoliberal TTIP and CETA trade deals has revitalized Bulgaria’s social movements. Now activists are promising to take the spirit of these campaigns into the European Parliament itself.