Budapest (MTI) – Marking International Workers’ Day on Friday, the ruling Fidesz party said that its government has consistently represented hard-working people since 2010. The opposition parties, in turn, complained about low wages and corruption.
Fidesz said in a statement that the introduction of the flat-tax rate, the reduced personal income tax and the re-introduction of family allowances have decreased Hungarians’ tax burden by a total of 3,600 billion forints. The government has supported job-creating investment projects, launched a job-protection scheme and made public work schemes available to those who fail to find other employment. The minimum wage has been raised, the purchasing power of pensions has grown and banks are being held responsible for unfair lending conditions they used to offer.
The party said the personal income tax will further drop next year, families with two children will get more help by way of tax allowances and the VAT on unprocessed pork, along with certain public utility fees, will be reduced.
Opposition Socialist leader Jozsef Tobias told a meeting in the City Park that Hungary is in trouble because extremist ideologies have been allowed to gain popularity on the right and are combined with corruption in “the Fidesz-Jobbik world”.
After meeting trade union leaders, Tobias said the new labour code has made it impossible to protect workers’ interests. The Socialist leader called for a 50 percent rise in the minimum wage. He added that the trade unions were in agreement with the Socialists that Sunday work should be allowed in Hungary but a 200 percent premium should be paid.
Budapest leader of the Socialists Agnes Kunhalmi accused Fidesz of pursuing hundred-year-old politics and building neo-feudalism. which ruin people’s trust in making progress by means of hard and honourable work.
Ferenc Gyurcsany, leader of the opposition Democratic Coalition, said that “six million forgotten Hungarians” who have been let down during the past 25 years of post-communist transformation must be given justice. Addressing a party event, also in the City Park, Gyurcsany said that the current government is based on theft and deception, with relatives, friends and insiders growing rich while the majority gets worn-out. The cabinet is mobilising the worst instincts in people, encouraging them to close the borders from migrants, while the country is suffocating from corruption, Gyurcsany added.
The green opposition LMP called for guaranteeing the subsistence level even to those who earn the bare minimum. Co-leader Andras Schiffer told a party event that LMP had prepared a seven-point proposal to fight poverty among workers. Wages must be raised in the public sector, tax burdens on families with children and on newly launched small companies must be reduced, the VAT of locally produced food cut and the public works scheme changed. He noted that more than half of Hungarian tax-payers earn less than 87,000 forints net per month. LMP calls for the reintroduction of a progressive tax system and a 24 percent increase in average wages, he said.
Spokesman of the opposition Dialogue for Hungary (PM) party Bence Tordai told a party event that a subsistence wage should be introduced. He said that PM supports trade union demands that the minimum wage in Hungary should not be below the subsistence level.
The opposition Egyutt said Hungarian families are worse-off today than they were before the start of the global economic crisis in 2008, paying more taxes and many being without jobs. Party leader Viktor Szigetvari called for scrapping the flat-tax rate and the public works scheme and demanded fair cooperation between markets and the state to create new jobs and help those who fall behind.
Head of the non-parliamentary Hungarian Workers Party Gyula Thurmer called for introducing a one-off 40 percent tax on Hungary’s super rich, a minimum wage of at least 200,000 forints, the restoration of real strike rights and work-free Sundays.
The alliance of Hungarian trade unions MASSZ said Hungarians have become the most vulnerable workers in the European Union since the last pillars of workers’ rights have been ruined by the new labour code which Laszlo Kordas, the leader of the organisation, described as “slave code”. He told a demonstration in the City Park that the new labour code is unconstitutional and ignores international laws.