Employees of Budapest-run companies and institutions will receive a one-off remuneration of gross 200,000 forints (EUR 743) to help them pay their utility bills, Gergely Karácsony, the city’s mayor, said on Friday.
Karácsony told a press conference that rubbish collection services had resumed early Friday morning and thanked those who had contributed to resolving the situation. Budapest’s FKF waste management company announced on Tuesday that several hundred of its employees had started a strike, saying that the wage hikes they had received had been eroded by inflation and increased utility costs.
Over the last several days, the Budapest leadership has been in consultations with city council-run companies, institutions and unions, and has agreed with them that the one-off payment being given to rubbish collectors will be expanded to “every employee of the Budapest family”, Karácsony said.
The utility bill subsidy will be paid out to the employees of all Budapest-run companies and institutions with the exception of their leaders, he added. Karácsony said that the city had a duty to help its employees in difficult times if it wanted public services to run smoothly.
Soaring energy prices and inflation have put the Budapest city council in an “extremely difficult situation”, the mayor said, adding that right now it was unclear where they were going to get the resources to finance the one-off utility support. Karácsony thanked Budapest residents for their solidarity towards rubbish collectors. Meanwhile, the mayor said he considered it “outrageous” that when the city council had notified the government that there was a risk to the security of waste collection, the government had responded with “political pamphleteering”.
He said that NHKV, the national holding company responsible for financing and coordinating rubbish collection, had not transferred to FKF the rubbish collection fees collected from the capital’s residents since late 2019, and now owed the city around 15 billion forints. Karácsony also said that the city would take legal action against certain media outlets “for falsely claiming that the city council had threatened to fire” the rubbish collectors who participated in this week’s strike.
Deputy mayor Ambrus Kiss said the city-run companies and institutions employ around 25,000-26,000 people, adding that the one-off subsidy will cost the city 5.5 billion forints.
Zsolt Wintermantel, group leader of ruling Fidesz in the Budapest city assembly, told a press conference that Karacsony had “continually misled” the public in connection with the rubbish collector strike.
He said Karácsony’s announcement on Thursday on the agreement between the Budapest public works company and rubbish collectors had been an “admission” on his part that he had “continually misled the public and his own employees, and that he’s not aware of the laws in effect”. Wintermantel said Karácsony had said there was a payment dispute between the state holding company coordinating rubbish collection and FKF. “It turned out that this wasn’t the case,” he said.
Concerning Karacsony’s assertion that the state rubbish collection company was not giving FKF its fair share, Wintermantel said: “This also turned out not to be the case.” Citing press reports, he said the state company had paid FKF 1.4 billion forints more than what it had collected from the public and had also assumed significant costs.