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Govʼt hopes for last-minute minimum wage agreement

Gergely Gulyás, the minister in charge of the Prime Ministerʼs Office, expressed hope employers and unions can reach a last-minute agreement on next yearʼs minimum wage increases before the end of December, fielding a question at a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

Gergely Gulyás

Talks between employers and unions have yet to produce an agreement, and Minister of Finance Mihály Varga has said the government will decide unilaterally on the scale of the increase if the sides fail to seal a deal by yearʼs end. Employers are willing to raise minimum wages for both skilled and unskilled workers by 8%, according to press reports, but unions are demanding a 13% increase.

Answering a question at the press briefing on Thursday - a day after the last cabinet meeting of the year - Gulyás acknowledged differences between the sides, but said "an agreement cannot be excluded." While the official stands of employers and unions may not appear very close, "talks are ongoing, and as far as I know there are closer figures than those," he added.

A six-year agreement reached between the government, employers and unions late in 2016 specified minimum wage increases - paired with payroll tax cuts - for 2017 and 2018, but not for the years following.

The minimum wages for skilled and unskilled laborers are a monthly HUF 180,500 and HUF 138,000, respectively, at present.