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Hungarian teachersʼ union could call day-long strike

History

If the official teachers union (PSZ) cannot reach agreement with the Hungarian government at their negotiations scheduled for Monday, they could call for a day-long strike, union chief Mrs. István Galló said today on commercial channel HírTV.

Teachers and their supporters from the Tanítanék initiative demonstrate outside a school in Szeged, during a nationwide one-hour strike yesterday. (Photo: MTI/Gergely Zoltán)

Although PSZ, the official teachersʼ union in Hungary, did not sanction the technically illegal strike by the civilian initiative Tanítanék yesterday, they said they sympathize with that group.

According to union-chief Galló, PSZ and the government have reached agreement on 18 points out of the 25 changes the union proposed earlier, but some very important points are still being discussed, such as the freedom to choose textbooks and the reduction of the number of required classes per week.

If these issues are not solved, the PSZ would call for a day-long strike, Galló said.

Teachers have been protesting against centralized government control of education and the curriculum, which they say is politically inspired, as well as related issues and concerns about pay and money for supplies. Earlier this month, the government said the centralized body would be dissolved, but many teachers say it will simply be replaced by another form of invasive, top-down government control.

Following yesterdayʼs one-hour strike by Tanítanék, State Secretary for Education László Palkovics said the government will not meet separately with that group, which is a civilian movement of teachers and their supporters. He said they should instead join roundtable discussions on education that the government has been holding. PSZ and Tanítanék have avoided official participation in the roundtable talks, and critics say those negotiations are stacked in favor of the government.

Tanítanék reacted to Palkovicsʼs refusal to meet by saying they will hold another strike. It now appears that the PSZ union may join them.

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