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Hungarian Health Care Employees Hold Demonstration For Better Work Conditions And Higher Salaries

Tamás Székely 2015.05.13.

Health employees gathered in central Budapest to demand higher salaries and the introduction of career models in the sector. The demonstration, attended by an estimated 5,000 nurses and other staff members, was organised by the Hungarian Chamber of Health-care Workers (MESZK). Chamber head Zoltán Balog said the message of the protest was that “decision makers should not only hear but understand” the demands of health employees, whose “patience is growing thin”. The protesters marched through central Budapest to the human resources ministry to hand over a petition to the government. According to labour organisations, salaries of many health-care workers do not reach 100,000 forints ($365.90) per month.

The protest of was one of the largest this year, with health care workers staging two simultaneous marches in the capital. One group was clad in white and the other black to accentuate the dire situation they feel they are in, Reuters reported. The protesters scoffed at recent growth numbers showing that Hungary’s economy expanded by 3.6 percent in 2014. “We would like to get our money back from this robust Hungarian economy,” Budapest nurse Mária Sándor told the protesters at Hungary’s Parliament building, according to the news web site index.hu. Both marches ended at the government building where Gábor Zombor told the protesters they were “right in every demand you have” and promised to represent their cause at the government, Reuters reported.

Ahead of the demonstration the ruling Fidesz party said that the government recognised the problems facing the sector and is doing everything in its capacity to improve the working environment and wages. Fidesz also said that shortly after winning power in 2010, the Hungarian government made raising wages in the health sector its priority. By now, 95,000 health-care employees have received wage rises, and increases will apply next year, too, it said, adding that in 2016, 43,000 nurses and 18,000 doctors will have larger salaries. The left-wing opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) has criticized the governments health care policy harshly, insisting that changes in the health-care sector should be coordinated with professional bodies and the unions.

via hungarymatters.hu, reuters.com and indey.hu photo: Zsolt Szigetváry – MTI