Teachers protest in Budapest for higher wages

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Trade unions and civilians organised a large demonstration at the Kossuth square in front of Parliament in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, demanding higher wages and the right to strike.

The square was reportedly filled with more than 10,000 teachers and students on Saturday, many dressed in plaid shirts, which have become a symbol of teachers over the last years, reports Xinhua news agency.

The demonstrators were holding signs such as “We continue to teach, despite meagre salaries”, “There is no future without teachers,” and “Who is going to teach tomorrow?”

The teachers have been demanding immediate wage settlements and reductions in workload from the government for years.

On March 16, strikes were held in schools in Budapest, and major Hungarian cities following months of fruitless negotiations between the government and the trade unions.

Teachers were demanding a pay rise, a reduction in their compulsory hours, and also an increase in the salaries of non-teaching staff working in schools.

Two weeks after a warning strike was staged on January 31, a government decree took away the possibility of a visible and substantive strike from the teachers.

“Teachers are angry because the government has made it impossible for them to strike instead of negotiating better conditions, and giving them more respect,” Peter Lisztes, an 18-year-old student, told Xinhua.

Teachers’ salaries in Hungary are very low, about 207,000 forints net ($613) per month, according to a report of local website hrportal.hu.

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