Teachers gear up for a full-on strike

April 5, 2016


Teachers’ Union (PSZ) president Mrs. István Galló (pictured) has announced that her union will organize a nationwide strike to take place on April 20, reports Hungarian news site Index.hu. According to Galló, the union has not been able to make any headway in its negotiations with the government’s own “Public Education Roundtable”.

On Tuesday afternoon the union president announced her organization is preparing to strike because meetings with the government continued to be fruitless.

Among the union’s goals are to see a complete reshaping of the catastrophic public education system introduced during the second Orbán government.

The union would also like to see the practice of subsidiarity returned to the operation and management of schools, weekly class time reduced to 22 hours per teacher, and increased pay for teachers’ assistants and support staff.

Galló made it clear that she had conveyed the union’s plans to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán.

The union also takes issue with the government’s takeover of the textbook industry and mandatory ethics and religion classes.

Galló appeared on ATV Start Tuesday morning and said she had spoken to education undersecretary László Palkovics well into the late hours of the night, but to no avail. The government simply would not budge.

“If the teachers’ union and [congress of teachers] are in agreement, it is safe to assume there will be a strike,” she said.

Changes to Hungary’s strike law introduced during the second Orbán government severely curtail the ability of the union to call a strike.

According to labor attorney Csilla Kollonay, the teachers can only strike if they can guarantee a minimal amount of service, i.e., if the teachers stay and babysit the children in the classroom.  Furthermore, the union is liable to its rank and file for lost wages in the event of an “illegal strike.”

Galló says the government is being notified that the union is preparing to strike and the government will have seven days to respond to their demands.

Government spokesman Zoltán Kovács has lauded as a success the government’s response to the much criticised public education system and the failed talks with education stakeholders.

According to Kovács, “the Orbán government listens to people and acts upon the issues that citizens deem important.”

“This is the way democracies work,” he writes.