The two main teacher unions, the Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ) and the Teachers Union (PSZ), are planning to hold a two-hour “warning” strike on Monday morning. But if it’s up to the Ministry of Human Resources (EMMI), it won’t happen.
The unions announced on Friday afternoon that the court of first instance had ruled in their favor “on the matter of providing ‘sufficient service,’ ruling that Monday’s strike would be legal under the rules put forward by PDSZ and PSZ.”
EMMI also put out a statement of its own to say that Monday’s teacher strike can not be considered legal due to time required to appeal.
A ruling from the court at first instance could become final if neither party appealed. The unions told the court that they were waiving their right to appeal, so it is up to the government whether the ruling can be considered final on Monday.
However, the ministry has indicated that the deadline to appeal the case is five days, meaning that they do not at all appear to have told the court that that they are waiving their right to appeal. According to EMMI’s statement:
Due to deadlines related to court proceedings, it became clear several days ago that there would be no final court ruling by January 31, meaning that Monday’s teacher strike is certainly not legal.
PDSZ and PSZ have been negotiating their strike demands with the government for months with little success. They last sat at the negotiating table on Monday to agree on the terms of the strike, but the two sides weren’t able to reach consensus.
The main source of disagreement at the moment is what counts as providing “sufficient service” during a strike. László Kisfaludy, the deputy state secretary negotiating on behalf of the government, waited two days after Monday’s strike talks to finally announce the government’s position on Wednesday afternoon. They maintain their previous stance that only providing child care violates students’ right to education, and “sufficient service,” which is what must be provided during a strike, also includes teaching activities.
Despite this, the unions announced after the first instance decision that they would not call off the strike, encouraging everyone to continue organizing, and calling on school administrators and staff to work with local strike organizers.
The ministry, on the other hand, believes that under the strike law, a strike can only be held if an agreement between the government and the unions on “sufficient service” can be made, or if the courts have made a final decision. At the moment, neither of these exist.
On behalf of the government, the ministry then called on the unions organizing Monday’s strike to “attest to law-abiding behavior and postpone Monday’s strike.”
They also referred to the coronavirus epidemic, “because of which children and parents have had more absences and burdens recently. We ask the unions not to make parents’ job even harder.”
Finally, the familiar refrain of the government and Fidesz was also expressed:
In our view, the strike planned for Monday, in addition to being illegal, is clearly part of the left-wing election campaign. Left-wing parties are once again leading the unions on a string as the election approaches. They are encouraged to take political action and wear political symbols. This is what the left has done, which sent thousands of teachers to the streets when it was in power, froze their salaries and even deprived them of a month’s pay.