According to the two Hungarian education unions, the new academic year started with great tension. According to them, many teachers are now faced with the fact that the new so-called status law regulating their legal status – and its implementing regulations – do not contain guarantees of salary increases. “2-3,000 people could resign already in August, according to our estimates, another 1,000 people may leave the schools in September. Unfortunately, there are no exact numbers because the school district centers refuse to provide data,” he said Tamás Totyik, president of the Teachers’ Union.
According to the teachers, the situation is unsustainable. “We are already discussing the strike with the other union, which could be the first in October,” said Tamás Totyik. Erzsébet Nagy, manager of the Democratic Trade Union of Teachers according to him, there has been a lot of indignation among colleagues since the beginning of the academic year. “We are assessing the willingness of the teachers to strike,” he added.
Both union leaders spoke about the fact that this year’s 10 percent wage increase promised by the government has not yet been realized.
“Teachers can ‘negotiate’ with school district and institutional leaders. This mostly consists of the fact that, in accordance with their new classification, they usually receive the lowest salary,” said Tamás Totyik.
The wage bands are as follows:
- In the case of Teacher I, from HUF 410,000 to HUF 1,65,000,
- Teacher II. can range from HUF 430,000 to HUF 1,135,000,
- In the case of a master teacher, it can range from HUF 520,000 to HUF 1,365,000,
- In the case of a research teacher, it can range from HUF 640,000 to HUF 1,470,000.
Tamás Totyik stated that the wage increase does not even reach 5 percent based on the wage bill. There is also a colleague whose salary only increased by HUF 10. “In general, the income of teachers who earned less anyway, but due to the new law, their wages had to be increased to at least HUF 410,000 or HUF 430,000 gross,” he emphasized.
“We know of someone whose salary increased by 10,000 to 20,000 forints, but the majority received little or no increase at all. Occasional replacements are still not paid, but permanent replacements due to overstretched timetables due to teacher shortages are. In the latter cases, colleagues are given HUF 4,000 gross,” Erzsébet Nagy gave further insight into wages.
According to a recent research, within the OECD, the average salary of primary and secondary school teachers and heads of institutions is the lowest in Hungary compared to the salary of those with higher education. The survey based on last year’s data also reveals that within the OECD, Hungary has the longest period (42 years) until the salary of secondary school teachers reaches the highest salary obtainable at the top of their career.
Public education workers now have until Friday to decide whether they accept the change in legal status. If they don’t accept it, they can make a written statement about it until September 29, and then their legal relationship will end on November 30. From October, it will be possible to get a clearer picture of how many people ultimately decide to look for prosperity elsewhere.
The maintainers and managers of the individual educational institutions are already given the lesson of who is going to teach in each lesson.
“Pedagogical assistants often run daycare sessions, even though they are theoretically not qualified to do so. Many teachers are also assigned to upperclassmen’s classes, even though in the event that they did not receive a certificate in the appropriate field of education, they could only teach juniorclasses,” reported Erzsébet Nagy about the forced class schedule.
Lots of people are looking for us. All our lawyers are very busy. Many people are considering quitting because they are now faced with what we said several times in the summer, that neither the law nor its implementing regulations guarantee a wage increase – said Erzsébet Nagy.
Both union leaders confirmed that they have begun negotiations on a work stoppage due to the situation in education, and that the question now is not if there will be a strike, but when. More street protests are expected in the fall.
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