New Protest in Budapest Held Against Law On Teachers' Status

  • 26 Apr 2023 6:10 AM
  • Hungary Matters
New Protest in Budapest Held Against Law On Teachers' Status
A demonstration was held in Budapest on Monday in protest against draft legislation changing the employment status of teachers.

Protesters marched from downtown Kálvin Square to the building of the interior ministry chanting slogans such as “The status law is revenge law”, “General strike”, “Pintér resign” referring to the interior minister, and “police state is no rule of law”.

In front of the interior ministry on Roosevelt Square, Erzsébet Nagy of teachers’ union PDSZ called on the government to withdraw the draft, “as it aims not to improve education but to discipline teachers”.

Instead, the government should come up with legislation in line with its commitments to the European Union during negotiations on accessing its recovery and resilience funding, “which would improve public education and money would also flow in”, Nagy said.

Nagy noted that “all the large groups of the European Parliament” had turned to European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in a letter, asking that the EC put pressure on the government to withdraw the legislation.

After the demonstration in front of the ministry, some demonstrators marched to the Prime Minister’s Office in the Castle District.

The Budapest police headquarters said late on Monday that an unregistered protest had been held at the Prime Minister’s Office where many of the protesters acted aggressively with police who used tear gas against them.

Earlier on Monday, opposition Párbeszéd also held a protest in front of the ministry.

Ministry: Teachers Set to Receive Further Pay Hikes 

New draft legislation supporting the careers of teachers serves to improve the quality of public education, the interior ministry said on Monday, adding teachers could expect further wage hikes and streamlined advancement.

The ministry reacted to a statement by teachers’ union PDSZ and protests organised by the body on Monday. The ministry said it has been in talks on the new draft legislation with the National Teachers’ Chamber and the National Public Education Council for a month and a half.

The bills will be submitted to the government once the consultations are concluded, the statement said.

The draft proposals are aimed at establishing a new career model for teachers and improving the quality of public education, the ministry said.

Children come first in education, it said, adding that teachers could expect further wage increases and streamlined advancement. Those who do a better job teaching and focus more on the children can earn more money, they said.

The ministry said it was “regrettable” that PDSZ, which “barely represents one percent of teachers”, continued to “act as a political organisation of the left, and organises strikes and demonstrations instead of being a professional partner in improving education for children, parents’ satisfaction and the situation of teachers together”.

The statement noted that the government raised teachers’ wages by 10% from January, but will bump them up to 21% retroactively “as soon as Hungary receives the European Union funding it is entitled to”.

Wages may increase by 25% in 2024 and by up to 30% in 2025, compared with 2021 levels, it said.

The government is committed to having teachers’ wages reach 80% of the average wage of degree holders by 2025, it said.

A video about the protest available here

MTI Photo from an earlier demo by Tibor Illyés

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