NUWPC has 30 members – worker producers’ cooperatives of persons with disabilities /TPKIs/ with over 50-year long activity, directed mainly towards carrying out of labor rehabilitation of member cooperators with disabilities. The Union, as a voluntary association, supports, protects and represents its members’ interests, vis-à-vis governmental, judicial, economic, public and international bodies and organizations.
The production structure of the TPKIs covers: baby, children, women and men’s clothing made of textiles and knitted fabric, plastic products, toys, souvenirs, polygraphic activity, packaging paper, etc., which is consistent with the capacities of persons who have lost, to a large extent¸ the most important thing in life – their health. Indispensable is the role of the TPKIs, as they create opportunities for permanent employment of persons with disabilities, in order to ensure a decent life.
In Bulgaria, the main law regulating the activity of TPKIs and the obligations of the State to them is the Law on Integration of Persons with Disabilities /LIPD/, which entered into force on 01.01.2005. This law regulates the social relations associated with the integration of persons with disabilities.
The law aims to create conditions and guarantees for following:
– equal treatment of persons with disabilities;
– Social Integration of persons with disabilities and observation of their rights;
– support to persons with disabilities and their families;
– Integration of persons with disabilities in working environment;
This Law regulate also the preference provided for TPKIs, namely 30% of the social security and health insurance are deducted and remain with them. Furthermore, based on the Law on Corporate Income Tax and /LCIT/, the TPKI’s also enjoy preference regarding income tax, which remains at 100% with them, when intended for investment purposes. The governmental policy for the integration of persons with disabilities implemented by the Council of Ministers, Minister of Labor and Social Policy, regional governors, local authorities, in cooperation with national representative organizations of and for people with disabilities, such as NUWPC.
The governmental policy for Integration of persons with disabilities is implemented by the Agency for persons with disabilities at the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy /MLSP/. The Agency allows production, keeps a register of specialized enterprises and cooperatives of persons with disabilities, develops programs and finances projects to foster their economic activity.
The contemporary economic and political reality poses a number of challenges to TPKIs, caused by globalization, stagnant domestic market and the need to improve the quality and competitiveness of production output. All this requires that TPKI managements take radical measures to create the prerequisites for achieving the requirements of the European market. To this end, they have developed guidelines for development adopted by general meetings, focusing on:
– technological innovation, leading to increased productivity and high quality of production;
– increasing the capacity and competitiveness of the manufactured product;
– introduction of marketing as a leading management function.
In order to achieve these objectives, we need financial resources, which are currently insufficient at TPKIs. Sources for funding include social and business projects subsidized by the state budget and received via APD. Funds under projects with a social purpose should create healthy and safe working conditions for working cooperative members with disabilities. The investment business projects are focusing on the introduction of high-performance machines and facilities that meet modern requirements, ease the work of persons with disabilities and compensate for their lost working capacity.
NUWPC is annually developing reasoned requests comprising specific financial substantiation addressed to the Ministry of Finance about a subsidy from the state budget, which is aiming at solving the main goal – namely, to enhance the capabilities of TPKIs, to increase employment of persons with disabilities working there, and to conduct a more effective and comprehensive rehabilitation.
The TPKIs are spending such resources on performing following activities:
Supplement for reduced work capacity of persons with disabilities and especially focus on technological innovation, increasing the labor productivity and production quality.
Vocational training, vocational guidance, training and retraining
Organizing courses by the Centre for Vocational Training at NUWPC, to acquire knowledge and skills for widely applicable skilled labor in order to increase the mobility of cooperative members with disabilities.
– improving and strengthening the health of cooperators with disabilities through resort treatment and rehabilitation services under groups of diseases in the holiday homes of Tourmedico AD at NUWPC
– organizing sporting events and dosed tourism consistent with the diseases of cooperators with disabilities
General rehabilitation needs
– building-up of information systems at the TPKIs
– participations in fairs, bazaars and exhibition to support their marketing activity
– getting familiar with experiences of similar foreign entities
– training of specialist to implement the international ISO standard and certification of the manufactured products
Within the framework of the project „ The cooperatives – opportunity for social inclusion of persons with disabilities through access to employment”, studies were conducted among TPKIs within the NUWPC system in terms of human resource management, safe and healthy working conditions and opportunities of the working environment to ensure social inclusion through employment for people with disabilities. The results show a good practice determined by attentive and appropriate care for the specific needs of persons with disabilities in organizing their work and workplace. Strong rehabilitation activities developed by cooperatives, with the substantial support of NUWPC, provide the necessary conditions for the inclusion of persons with disabilities.