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Hundreds of Bulgarian coal miners and energy workers staged a protest amid concerns for their safety at work.

Buses transported protesters from across Bulgaria to the rally in the capital Sofia, where protesters chanted “we want jobs” as they marched to the seat of government.

The miners called on the Bulgarian government to secure their jobs as part of the European Union’s offers to shut down mines and reduce carbon emissions.

Protesters say the EU’s timetable for shutting down coal mines and coal mining is too short, and argue it should not come at the expense of the poorest and carbon-dependent regions.

The country’s two biggest unions – which organized the protest – said they were defending Bulgaria’s energy independence.

The unions also warned that tens of thousands of jobs would be at risk if the largest coal mines and power plants in southeast Bulgaria were to close.

Protesters submitted a petition with 110,000 signatures to the government, demanding that they extend the operational life of coal-fired power plants.

Protesters also warned that a possible energy crisis this winter in the EU could lead to a social crisis due to high carbon prices.

Almost half of the electricity in Bulgaria is produced by coal-fired power stations, while 35% comes from nuclear energy. The rest is covered by hydroelectric, solar and wind production.

The financial burden of reducing carbon emissions is a huge challenge for Bulgaria, which has one of the lowest gross domestic product per capita rates in the EU.

Things are even more complicated given that Bulgaria’s interim government currently has limited powers.

After meeting with Acting Prime Minister Stefan Yanev, union leaders said the government had agreed that the date for shutting down coal-fired power plants should be after 2040.

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euronews Gt

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