Teachers from European countries are standing up for their Hungarian colleagues, they don’t even understand what the Orbán government is doing

education; strike; Europe; Hungary; union; student; teacher; solidarity;

2022-11-22 12:48:00

For the Hungarian government, education is nothing more than a cost-based administrative task, not an investment in the future, the European director of the Education Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation told our newspaper.

– Apart from Hungary, there is no other country in the European Uno whose government would make the settlement of the salary situation of its public employees, in this case teachers, dependent on EU subsidies – the European director of the Education Committee of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUCE) told Népssava. Susan Flocken said this in connection with the fact that, despite the teacher, student and parent movements and school strikes in Hungary that have been going on for weeks, the Orbán government is not responding meaningfully to the demands of the protesters. What’s more, teachers’ wages would only be increased to a slightly greater extent if an agreement with the European Commission is reached on the EU funds also intended for this purpose.

Susan Flocken emphasized that, according to the basic principles of the EU, education as a public service falls under the national competence in all member states, and the Hungarian government is solely responsible for the salaries of Hungarian teachers. He recalled that the European Commission froze the payment of EU subsidies to Hungary due to government measures resulting in the violation of the rule of law, so the fact that the Hungarian government is trying to “blackmail” the European Commission with the poor financial situation of its own civil servants and by tying wage increases to EU subsidies, in his opinion, makes no sense. .

There is no other place to look for scapegoats, if the root of the problem lies primarily in how much the Hungarian government actually allocates to education from the state budget – stated the European director of ETUCE, adding: several national governments across Europe have long understood that education is not an expense, but investment in the country’s future. According to him, Hungary is also “unique” in the EU in this regard: education previously belonged to the Ministry of Human Resources, now to the Ministry of the Interior, which makes it clear that for the Hungarian government, education is nothing more than an administrative task with a cost perspective.

For this reason, the EUTCE fully supports the Hungarian teachers and their interest representatives, the Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ) and the Union of Teachers (PSZ) in their struggle for better financial and working conditions. According to Susan Flocken, interest protection organizations are not in an easy situation anyway, especially in countries where right-wing and neoliberal governments have come to power. As an example, he cited the last Slovenian government, which even during its consecutive EU presidency completely ignored the trade unions and rejected social dialogue.

To the question, what does it say to the fact that the Hungarian government limited the right of teachers to strike by law, among other things, by requiring half of the lessons to be held despite a work stoppage, Susan Flocken answered,

He called it important that society – parents, students – understand that teachers are not on strike for themselves, as teachers’ financial and working conditions contribute to the quality of education. In this regard, it is also worrying that the average age of teachers in Hungary is one of the highest. According to Susan Flocken, if the government does not urgently invest in education, the number of qualified teachers in Hungary will drop significantly within a few years.

– The consequences of this will primarily be suffered by children and students. I dare to hope that this cannot be the goal of the Hungarian government and education management, said the European director of ETUCE.

Source: Népszava by nepszava.hu.

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