Budapest, January 5 (MTI) – Opposition Jobbik leader Gábor Vona has lambasted ruling Fidesz for rejecting Jobbik’s call to raise Hungary’s wages to the level of the European average.
Vona announced on December 18 that his party would launch a civil initiative aimed at “completing the European Union’s founding principles” with the goal of eliminating wage gaps in the bloc.
Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Vona reacted to the pro-government Civil Unity Forum (CÖF) disparaging Jobbik’s demand, saying “I would have been happier had Fidesz had responded directly”.
Vona insisted that the gap between wages in the east and west had not narrowed over the 12 years of Hungary’s EU membership, while Hungarian prices had caught up.
Vona also criticised multinationals for paying lower wages in Hungary for jobs comparable to western European ones.
Far from becoming an “increasingly fair” community, the EU continues to be a “community of bureaucrats and multinational capitalists”, Vona said, adding that Jobbik calls for a “social union” rather than a political one.
On the subject of Hungary’s next presidential election and the possible nomination of ex-ombudsman László Majtényi, Vona said his party would neither support him nor incumbent János Áder. Jobbik maintains its position that the president should be elected directly by the voters, he added.
Green opposition LMP said that “contrary to government propaganda”, over the past years the government had “overtaxed” labour, deliberately kept wages low and “made the rich richer and the poor poorer”. Citing Thursday’s employment figures released by the Central Statistical Office (KSH), Bernadett Szél said in a statement that there were still at least 220,000 people working for “starvation wages” and 117,000 people working abroad because of the low wages in Hungary. LMP calls for a worker-friendly and fair tax plan under which wages below subsistence level are tax-exempt, she said.
The ruling Fidesz party said in a statement in reaction to Vona’s remarks that the Jobbik leader had previously said Hungary should withdraw from the EU and now he was “preaching about the basic principles of Brussels”. Had Vona really wanted higher wages for people, then he would have voted for the government’s tax cuts and wage hikes, the statement added.