Hungary’s Parliament building hosted a three-hour trade union conference on Friday: nearly fifty members of twenty-three trade unions accepted Jobbik’s invitation for a meeting to discuss the European Citizens’ Initiative for a Wage Union. The event was also attended by the Polish and Bulgarian representatives of the wage union project.
In his press conference held in front of the Parliament, Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi, the representative of the Citizens’ Committee launching the initiative said their goal had always been to promote the civil aspect of the wage union’s cause and reach out to NGOs, trade unions and associations as well as the representatives of various industrial branches. As he put it, they wanted to free the project from the prison of politics and hand it over to trade unions. Jobbik had organized this conference to discuss the particulars of such a handover. Mr Gyöngyösi concluded that the meeting was successful.
Addressing the participants of the conference, Csaba Vámos, the leader of the National Trade Union of Chimney Sweepers asserted that the concept of “equal pay for equal work” was identical with solidarity. However, he said, this notion had very much faded among Hungarian workers over the years. Calling the wage union project a noble initiative, he added that trade unions definitely needed to support it and show solidarity with it. On the other hand, he said it was unfortunate that certain trade unions did not want to or could not support the initiative as yet, giving in to “some political compliance”.
“I believe that any trade union failing to support the objective of increasing the wages of their members equals the betrayal of their workers’ cause as well as that of the Hungarian trade union movement,”
he stated. Mr Vámos also pointed out that the representatives of the trade unions welcomed Jobbik’s proposal that the party was going to hand over the initiative to their organizations. He added that trade unions should have launched the wage union initiative themselves. In response to the malevolent attacks, Mr Vámos said:
“My message to all political parties is this: Leave the wage union initiative alone! Do not degrade it to a political issue. There are no pro-right or pro-left workers, there are only satisfied or dissatisfied workers,”
Marek Mnich, the president of Poland’s Solidarity 80 said that the conference helped eliminate any concerns that Hungarian trade unions refused to back the wage union initiative. On the contrary, they declared their full support for the cause. Mr Mnich added that Gábor Vona and Márton Gyöngyösi handed over the initiative to the trade unions: they were going to withdraw from it and support the process from the background. He announced that Poland had already started collecting statements of support but their media-assisted official campaign was going to begin on September 19-20-21.