Nearly 5,000 municipal employees across Hungary refused to work on Wednesday morning, demanding higher wages. The two-hour strike was organized by the Trade Union of Hungarian Civil Servants and Public Employees (MKKSZ).
According to the president of the trade union, 4,800 civil servants joined the strike in more than 100 local government offices. As Hungarian news portal Hvg.hu reported, life at the offices basically ground to a halt. In some smaller cities more than half of the civil servants refused to work.
Strong message to government
Local government employees have not have a raise in eight years. And while those working at the newly created district government offices are due to receive a 30 percent pay rise in July, municipal government employees have been left out.
“All we want is equal opportunity,” Mrs. Péter Boros, president of MKKSZ, told Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet.
The trade union leader fears that many civil servants will leave their jobs for higher wages and better opportunities. This could mean a serious problem for villages and smaller cities where there is already a shortage of manpower.
There are currently 17,000 people working at district offices, but they represent only 15 percent of the 110,000 civil servants in Hungary. Moreover, Minister Overseeing the Office of the Prime Minister János Lázár has promised serious lay-offs in the near future.
The action of civil servants is only one of a series of strikes and demonstrations against the Hungarian government. Thousands of public school teachers held a one-day strike to protest against the education reforms of the Orbán government in April. The discontent of healthcare workers is also growing as their wages and working conditions have not improved since street demonstrations held last summer.