Strike talks between the government and teacher unions continued this week but without reaching a breakthrough, meaning Hungary might see teachers on strike as soon as next week.
Last month, PDSZ announced a two-hour preliminary “warning” strike for January 31, which would be followed by another one starting on March 16 for an indefinite period of time if their conditions have not been met by then.
A website set up by the Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ), “Don’t Work for Free,” shares some details of the recent round of negotiations, such as Deputy State Secretary László Kisfaludy allegedly asking union representatives to ensure that some teachers still hold classes in addition to providing general childcare during the two-hour warning strike period.
Union representatives felt that this was an unacceptable condition, as it would mean teachers doing free work since they do not receive pay while on strike. They also feared that this would cause the strike to lose its power to call attention to the low pay and poor working conditions of teachers in public schools.
During the negotiations, the union objected to a statement on the website of the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI) calling the members of the strike committee a “union under the influence of the Gyurcsány party.” (Ferenc Gyurcsány is a former Socialist Prime Minister and current head of the left-wing DK, and a reviled figure in Fidesz circles.)
László Kisfaludy denied the statement, and claimed that the trade union was trying to turn the talks into a political matter. At this point, one of the union representatives took out their phone and showed him what was actually written about them on EMMI’s website. The Deputy Secretary of State replied that he was not responsible for the sentiment and did not agree with it.
As negotiations wrapped up without a resolution and the union not expecting any further progress on having their demands for better wages and working conditions met, PDSZ will continue its plans to hold the warning strike on Monday. In a statement, the union said that more than twenty thousand people had already signed an online petition in support of their efforts. [Telex]