Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has signed a government decree transferring some HUF 900 million (USD 3.5 million) to an account for church employees from budgetary reserves designated to cover the salaries of public employees, reports Magyar Nemzet. The HUF 900 million is coming out of a HUF 20 billion (USD 78 million) reserve account and is being sent through the Ministry of Human Resources.
“This isn’t a small amount of money. There are huge shortages in the public sector. Church institutions operate in acceptable conditions compared to everyone else,” András Földiák, president of the Forum for Cooperation Among Unions, told Magyar Nemzet.
According to Földiák, it is possible that the year-to-year decrease in public sector workers would justify decreasing that particular reserve account, but the HUF 900 million could be put to better use in other places.
The government unilaterally sliced up the public sector, Földiák said, and wages were only improved in four out of roughly twenty public sector vocations (for teachers, police officers, military personnel and tax authority employees). All the while, municipal employees have not been given raises since 2008.
The wage compensation was introduced in 2012 for the purpose of compensating social workers dealing with preventative care, college and university employees, municipal and the national government’s regional office employees, and court employees.
Magyar Nemzet reports the government did not consult with labor unions before reallocating the HUF 900 million.
In July, the Union for Hungarian Civil Servants, Public Servants, and Public Servant Providers (MKKSZ) held a countrywide two-hour strike, calling for increased wages. The strike failed to garner significant media attention.