Teachers’ salaries in Hungary are so low that the Green Party is demanding an increase of 45%. In addition, if the government does not meet their demands, the education sector is at risk of a strike.
The Green Party of Hungary or the Lehet Más a Politika (LMP) is demanding a pay rise for teachers. According to the LMP, an increase in public employees’ salaries is urgent, because due to inflation their salaries are devalued. Moreover, according to the party, the Hungarian Government has adopted the methods of multinational companies in order to limit the labour rights of Hungarian workers as much as possible. An example of this is one of the first decisions of the new Orbán government, which was to prevent teachers from exercising their democratic right to strike.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has assured teachers that he will deliver on his promise of a 10 per cent pay rise in 2022, as well as a similar increase in the following two years. He admitted that teachers earn little, but in his opinion further increases must depend on the country’s economic situation.
The Democratic Teachers’ Trade Union is demanding a one-off 45% pay raise this year and views Orban’s offer of 10% as “ridiculously low”. According to the union, only a significant increase in education salaries and a reduction of the obligations imposed on teachers in recent years will reduce the trend of teachers leaving the profession.
“We will start negotiations as soon as the new government is in office. We consider the wage increase of 10 percent this year and 30 percent in three years announced by the Prime Minister to be ridiculously low,”said Erzsebet Nagy, spokesman of the Democratic Trade Union of Educators. He added that this year’s increase would not even compensate teachers for inflation.
In Hungary, every year more and more people give up the teaching profession. According to the local news outlet Hungary Today, Tamás Totyik, Vice-President of the teachers’ union commented on the situation :“While last year 9,791 people applied to study teaching at universities, this year only 8,600 applied… Moreover, experience shows that usually one-fifth of those admitted go on to professional careers, while the rest try to make a living elsewhere.”
In a statement issued by the LMP, the party pointed out how difficult it is to be a teacher in today’s Hungary. Not only because of the low salaries, but also because of the lack of adequate tools and methodical freedom. Other education-related problems, such as unnecessary administration, unpaid overtime and ideologically driven textbooks were also mentioned. The LMP has stated that an immediate pay raise is needed for teachers and other staff who directly support the teaching profession. The task of public education is also to equip children with competences and create a safe social environment, which can only be achieved with respected professionals.