Teachers' Strike Demonstration Attracts Thousands in Capital

City

Photo by MTI/Tibor Illyés

A solidarity demonstration and concert in support of teachers was held on Wednesday evening in Budapest, in front of the Parliament, with thousands of protesters in attendance, according to a report by news agency MTI.

Speaking to the crowd, Kata Törley, founder of the Tanítanék Mozgalom (I Want to Teach Movement), said they had been fighting for years to reform the education system and had long been standing up to those in power she dubbed "arrogant" and "incapable of dialogue".

The teacher shortage has now reached such proportions that we have to face the fact that the education system has collapsed and is burying everyone - teachers, parents, students, children - under its belly," she said.

She added that her movement had formulated two basic demands, without which it would be impossible to address the problems of the education system that still needed to be solved. These are the restoration of teachers' right to strike and immediate action to improve teachers' working conditions and pay," Törley pointed out.

She explained that for years they have not received a substantive response from the authorities, instead, they have received insults, threats, the sacking of protesting teachers, and existential insecurity.

The event was hosted by actor Áron Molnár, founder of the noÁR Movement, who said that the aim of the demonstration and the concert was to collect strike funds for teachers involved in the strike and civil disobedience. 

Romani activist László Glonczi stressed that the strike is a fundamental right and that teachers should demand a pay rise and freedom of expression together.

Olivér Pilz, co-founder of the Tanítanék Movement, said that students are many and smart and therefore dangerous to power. Pilz called for a general strike by all sectoral unions in support of teachers.  

Viki Walton, a Hungarian teacher and drama teacher representing Szülői Hang (Parents' Voice), said Hungarian education is dead, but, she said, "we cannot allow this". Parents can and must make a difference, she said, because they cannot be intimidated.  

A representative of the students who organized the closure of Margaret Bridge on Wednesday afternoon said there was a majority of those who wanted change, and free, people-centered education.

The crowd held up banners reading slogans such as "No teachers, no future" and chanted "Free country! Free education!".

The demonstration capped off a day that saw many strikers strike throughout the country, seeking higher wages and showing solidarity with their colleagues who were fired for protesting earlier.

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