A demonstration was held on Sunday in Budapest in solidarity with teachers’ demands for higher wages and better work conditions. At the protest organised by the Adom student organisation and teachers’ union PDSZ, Erzsébet Nagy, a senior official of the union, said the movement was fighting not only for higher wages and a smaller workload but also “against unlawful measures by the employer”, which she said were designed to “trammel dissent”. Nagy said teachers were leaving the profession in droves, leaving a shrunken workforce. “Everyone can see that, but the government refuses to listen,” she added.
The demonstrators demanded linking teachers’ pay to the minimum wage, restoring the mandatory limit on working hours, and paid overtime. They also called for “more usable material”, and “a liveable school environment”, she said.
Zsuzsanna Szabó, an official of the PSZ union, said a wage hike was necessary but not enough to solve the sector’s problems. Thousands of teachers are retiring every year, and there are not enough young professionals to take their place, she warned. Thus 16,000 teachers missing from Hungarian schools and kindergartens, while one-fifth of schools resort to employing teachers without appropriate training, violating children’s right to an education, she added.
Adom leader Fruzsina Schermann said: “We’re not afraid, we will not back down, and we are right.” The “oppressing power ignores us and mocks us, but we have to persist stubbornly,” she said. Talks with the education authorities, she added, were needed, but she also demanded guarantees for wage hikes and for the teachers fired after earlier protests to be reinstalled in their jobs.
Demonstrators gathered on Kalvin Square and walked to the square in front of the University of Technology on the Buda side of the Danube.