Teachers' demonstration gridlock paralyses central Budapest
Teachers demonstrate in Hungary's capital, forming a human chain and occupying a bridge. The demonstration enjoys the support of the left wing led by failed ex-PM Ferenc Gyurcsany.
The Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ) has announced a nation-wide strike for Wednesday, 5 Oktober, on World Teachers’ Day. The organisation urged kindergartens, schools, colleges and education services not to work today.
The demonstration was triggered by the dismissal of five teachers in Budapest, who – citing civil disobedience – refused to hold their classes. The demonstration is supported by the opposition left-wing led by failed ex-Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany.
The demonstrations caused huge chaos and traffic congestion in central Budapest. Some of the teachers will likely not continue the strike for the whole day, but will opt for participating in various forms of civil disobedience. Since the school year began, teachers have been protesting against problems in public education in two ways: civil disobedience and strike. The technical difference between the two is that a strike is a legal protest under the law in Hungary, while civil disobedience is not.
Bence Retvari, parliamentary state secretary of the Interior Ministry, stressed in parliament on Tuesday that the Left is taking advantage of the teachers’ legitimate protests. “The Left does not draw crowds at their meetings, so they go where the crowd is, and they take advantage of the teachers’ protests,” he said. The right-wing government is allied with the teachers, it is constantly raising teachers’ salaries, and is negotiating with them, while the leftist politicians go to their protests after cutting their salaries, Mr Retvari stressed.
Prime Minister’s Office head Gergely Gulyas, said at the latest government press briefing that a ten per cent increase in teachers’ salaries is planned for January. The government plans to increase salaries by a further ten per cent in 2023 and 2024, respectively. He added that teachers have the right to strike in Hungary, unlike in Germany, where teachers cannot exercise this right, the Hungarian daily Magyar Nemzet recalled.