Employees work in a sewing factory in the northern town of Lovech, on February 24, 2017. AFP / NIKOLAY DOYCHINOV
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Bent over the machines for hours with headphones to block out the whirring noise, textile workers in Bulgaria, which holds elections Sunday, earn a pittance even after 10 years of EU membership.The textiles and clothing sector was a major employer under communism and 25 years after the advent of democracy it remains the second largest employer, after the state, with about 100,000 workers.Bulgaria's average monthly salary is 500 euros, the lowest in the EU, around half the bloc average, and a fraction of what workers earn in western Europe.Together with other booming areas like auto parts, Bulgaria's IT and outsourcing sector has attracted billions of euros in foreign direct investment in recent years. They helped Bulgaria to notch up economic growth of 3.4 percent in 2016, one of the highest rates in the EU.
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