But what’s the Wage Union for?
Jobbik’s Family Day held in Budapest City Park on 20th August marked the beginning of the party’s campaign to collect statements of support for the wage union. The event featured a roundtable discussion with Márton Gyöngyösi, dr. Andrea Varga-Damm, Dániel Z. Kárpát and László György Lukács on such issues as how the wage union could be implemented in practice if the necessary number of signatures is collected and why the Fidesz government’s current attempts to patch up the dying Hungarian economy and healthcare system were not enough.
Talking about their special areas, each Jobbik politician explained what the wage union initiative would mean for their respective fields.
Márton Gyöngyösi pointed out that Jobbik’s wage union initiative was the first to declare the objective that the living standards of the Eastern European member states, including Hungary, must converge to those of Western Europe.
Giving a brief summary, Mr Gyöngyösi explained how the initiative was able to reach the phase of collecting statements of support, then he talked about what was going to happen if the one million signatures were all collected. As he put it, although the citizens’ initiative does not bind the Union in itself, but if enough people stand behind the project referred to by Gábor Vona as a “battering ram”, it will have a significant force that may result in an internal reform of the EU.
Mr Gyöngyösi also pointed out how mistaken those were who thought that western countries were not interested in a wage union: a key reason why British citizens voted for Brexit was the social tension caused by the cheap Eastern European labour, and France and Austria were also forced to seek out regulatory options to solve the problem. Jobbik’s politician explained that the EU could not be successful as long as it was divided by East-West and North-South income gaps and added that western countries were clearly aware of that.
In his opinion, Western European people also understand that low wages are the core of the problem but they have a different approach to it. As an example, he mentioned the fact that IG Metall, one of the largest German trade unions had already opened offices in the towns of Kecskemét and Győr to struggle for proper wages for the Hungarian workers of the German car manufacturers, so that these people would not seek employment in Germany.
Mr Gyöngyösi emphasized that we could not solve global problems on our own but the big-business-centred economic policy and approach that destroyed Hungary in the past 20 years could indeed be replaced by a mechanism that supports Hungarian small and medium enterprises, and a reformed EU cohesion policy could be a guarantee for that. Adding that any country which puts its citizens in intellectual and physical misery has no future, the politician pointed out that the Hungarian government was doing just that by depraving healthcare and education. That is why Jobbik would invest the thousand billions of HUF from cutting the subsidies of multinational companies into these two areas, Mr Gyöngyösi concluded.
Andrea Varga-Damm explained that the wage union could also reduce the gap between men’s and women’s wages as well as the east-west wage gap within Hungary, thus paving the way for a political solution in our country.
Jobbik’s MP candidate emphasized that the problems mentioned must be solved and regulated in national competency, which requires the largest opposition party getting in government and implement its economic programme. In Dr. Varga-Damm’s view, the EU regulation can be reformed and reshaped from within so that it would not matter which party comes in government later since they could not hinder the process of economic and wage development. Referring to the Hungarian governments’ total insensitivity to the matter of Hungarian wages, she called it absurd that a Euro-sceptic party had eventually had to turn to the EU bodies to have any progress in this issue. She added that healthcare and education were in the greatest need of a payrise but the necessary money must be produced by the economy. That is why these are the two primary target areas to put in order, which requires bridging the wage gap dividing Hungary.
If Eastern Europe becomes empty, we must brace ourselves for a “Wild East” situation – another statement voiced at the roundtable discussion. (Photo: Balázs Béli)
Dániel Z. Kárpát pointed out what a grave demographic disaster we must face since Eastern Europe was soon going to become practically empty. As he put it, we must brace ourselves for a “Wild East” situation unless this process is stopped. He emphasized that at least 10 per cent of the Hungarian population disappeared in the past 10 years. “If a country becomes empty, there will be a vacuum and the excess population of Africa will be more than happy to fill the void,” Mr Z. Kárpát said, adding that Viktor Orbán could not be considered as Hungary’s saviour as he sold residency permits for foreigners while his party of “former young democrats turned old Bolsheviks” swept off any Jobbik proposals to increase Hungarian living standards, from the idea of social housing projects to any attempts to help increasing the population.
According to the opposition MP, only Jobbik has a programme to stop the westward emigration of Hungarian people. Citing some shocking data, Mr Z. Kárpát said that the exact same 12 multinational companies involved in Eastern Central Europe paid 20 per cent tax in the Czech Republic and only 1 per cent in Hungary. That is why he thinks these companies must be “regulated” and we must put an end to legalized tax evasion. Contrary to any misconceptions, he added, these companies will not withdraw from Hungary if we do so. “Eastern Central Europe must cooperate because, as the migration crisis already showed, we are interdependent,” stressed Mr Z. Kárpát.
László György Lukács emphasized that healthcare was the hottest issue in Hungary, that’s where our citizens saw the biggest trouble, too. Identifying tragically low wages as the most important problem of the area, he said the wage union could be a solution for it, giving hope to healthcare professionals.
“There will be wages worth standing by the hospital beds for,” Jobbik’s healthcare specialist politician promised in case voters put their trust in Jobbik in 2018. Talking about the emigration of healthcare professionals, he said labour shortage was the most palpable in the daily lives of hospitals: the staff were overburdened and frustrated, which had an obvious impact on the satisfaction and emotional comfort of patients, while the level of service had sunken to the bare minimum as well.
In Mr Lukács’ view, the current wages do not motivate anyone to choose this career path but he also pointed out that the EU had no comprehensive healthcare policy or concept, either. He said that the wage union might remedy this problem as well. Reflecting on the regional wage gaps within Hungary, he asserted that the wage union could help in that area, too. In conclusion, he emphasized that misdirected development projects had no labour retention power. To change this situation, Hungary needs a government that is able and willing to do so, he added.
Source: Press release – Jobbik