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Orbán backs railway uinion claims

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán keeps to his earlier statements that the demands of railway workers, including the demand for a one-off payment from the privatization proceeds of state railway's freight unit MAV Cargo, were justified and realistic, Orbán told István Gaskó, the head of Hungary's Liga trade unions association on Wednesday.

A joint statement issued after the discussion said that they agreed on the need to hold further talks on the issue.

Railway workers held a series of strikes between 2008-2010, demanding a one-off payment of net HUF 250,000 per employee - a total of about HUF 11 billion - from MAV Cargo's 2008 privatization proceeds, and Orbán's Fidesz party, then in opposition, supported these demands. A consortium of Rail Cargo Austria and Hungarian-Austrian railways company GYSEV bought 100% of MAVCargo for HUF 102.5 billion and a promise to invest HUF 43.5 billion in the company within five years.

Gaskó asked the prime minister to significantly improve the dialogue between the government and trade unions.

Orbán informed Gaskó about the government's plans to develop a public work scheme. The two agreed to hold consultations on planned amendments to the Labor Code.

The joint statement noted that there are differences in opinion between the two sides on several issues.