Hungarian leftist parties continue to work against Hungary accessing the European Union funds that would allow teachers’ wage hikes, state secretary Bence Rétvári said after a meeting between government officials and opposition lawmakers, representatives of trade unions and student organisations on a draft legislation on teachers’ status. Should the EU funds be at hand, teachers’ wages could be raised to 561,000 forints (EUR 1,500) on average per month, he added. The government is ready to bring about the largest wage hike of the past 30 years, of 75%, he said. “Unfortunately, we have had no guarantees from leftist politicians that they would stop working against teachers,” he said. Wednesday’s meeting was the 19th stage of a long series of consultations, Rétvári said. Government officials answered all the questions of the opposition, he added. At the same time, the opposition parties have failed to submit their own texts regarding the legislation; only the Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) party prepared one, he said. “The others clearly came just to walk out,” he said.
At a separate press conference, the six opposition parties rejected the government’s proposed changes to teachers’ employment status as unacceptable. The representatives of the Socialists, Jobbik-Conservatives, Democratic Coalition, Párbeszéd, LMP and Momentum held a joint press conference after a meeting called by the interior ministry on a draft law with the opposition and representatives of trade unions and student organisations.
Ágnes Kunhalmi of the Socialists, the head of parliament’s cultural committee, said they found it unacceptable that the government had made wage hikes conditional on European Union funds. Funding the hikes is the government’s responsibility, and should be provided from the budget, he said. Párbeszéd’s Tímea Szabó called on the government to scrap the legislation and implement immediate wage hikes. “Revenge legislation can’t be the basis of improving public education,” she said.
Balázs Barkóczi of the Democratic Coalition warned the legislation would lead to the “utter dismantling of public education.” Momentum’s Ferenc Gelencsér said Interior Minister Sándor Pintér had “refused to promise that students demonstrating for their future will not be teargased in the future… and showed no sign of considering to withdraw the legislation.”
The representative of the student organisations Adom and United Students’ Front said students wanted “a solution, not disorderliness” and suggested that President Katalin Novák should refuse to sign the law.” In a statement published after the meeting, the opposition said the legislation went “generally against the interests of Hungarians and the government’s agreement with the European Union”.