If the government does not meet their demands by the day of Hungarian public education (November 22nd), the Teachers Trade Union PSZ will protest in the fall. “If that’s not enough,” they will organize a national strike, said the president of PSZ, in a press conference in Budapest on Monday.
According to Zsuzsa Szabó, they insist that the negotiations start as soon as possible, but their primary goal is not to demonstrate or go on a strike, but to have their five-point demands granted within a reasonable time-frame. These include adjusting the salaries of teachers and those working in education, and reducing their workload.
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“It was enough, we ran out of patience, our dissatisfaction and despair are huge.” They had been negotiating for one year with no success. That’s why they decided to launch campaigns, the president said.
The leader of the PSZ stated that without quality education, the country’s competitiveness would be in danger. It is not viable that Hungarian teachers’ wages are 38% lower than the graduate salaries, and that it is necessary to supplement the wages of new graduates to reach the guaranteed wage minimum, she stated.
If the government wants teachers who provide quality education, this can only be achieved by raising the prestige of the profession, she argued.
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Talking about the union’s workload survey, Tamás Totyik, vice-president of the PSZ, emphasized that the weekly workload of teachers is still 67-68 hours. Annually, they substitute 45 hours for free, while weekly they work 5 hours for which they cannot account, for example, the supervision of children during lunchtime. Only 6% received overtime pay. 16% of teachers deal with private students, with 22% taking second jobs.
He also pointed out the significant wage tensions between employees in the private and public sectors, and that the wage increase had never really reached 50% (often mentioned by the government). By now, we find that the gross salary of teachers in Romania is higher than the average salary of Hungarian teachers, said the vice-president of the organization.
The PSZ has been taking various actions since the summer to raise awareness of the untenable situation.
Most notably in July, the youth branch of PSZ launched a photo campaign on Facebook and Instagram to illustrate how extremely low many of the teachers’ wages are. In these posts, teachers submitted photos of themselves showing their net salary and how many years they had to study and work to be able to earn this much.
The series of actions is promised to continue in October and November.
According to the government, teachers will get a significant wage increase in 2020. Recently Bence Rétvári, a state secretary of the human resources ministry, said that the 2020 budget will boost funding for education as well as for family subsidies, health care, and pensions.
Featured photo by Márton Mónus/MTI