Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Hungary Protests - What is happening?

Several protests have been held in Hungary since December 8, mobilising a few thousands of people. In the parliament, the opposition parties attacked the ruling parties and wanted to paralyse the parliament's work by obstruction. What is happening in Hungary?
  1. On November 2, 2018, three lawmakers of the ruling Fidesz party submitted a draft law in order to amend the labour code. The amendment allows on top of the 40 normal working hours per week 400 extra hours per year, instead of the current 250 hours. But the amount of extra work should be counted not in 12 months as before, but in 36 months.
By doing this, the Fidesz government made the situation of capitalist employers easier. The labour code hasn't been serving the interests of workers and working people, as since the capitalist system change of 1990 all governments, without exception, have been serving the interests of the capitalists and formed the laws accordingly.
  1. On November 28, three trade union confederations (Liga Trade Unions, Hungarian Trade Union Alliance, National Alliance of Workers' Councils) led negotiations with the representatives of the ruling party. The government didn't withdraw the law.
  2. The Hungarian Trade Union Alliance, which has 104.000 members organised a demonstration for 8 December 2018. The Liga Trade Unions – which has 100.000 members – joined, but the Workers' Councils – which has 52.000 members – and other smaller alliances haven't joined.
We note that in Hungary there are about 1000 trade unions, operating in 6 confederations. Altogether they have 400-450.000 members, which is only 9-10 percent of the employed people.
According to the data of the trade unions, about 10.000 people attended the protest on December 8.
  1. The Hungarian Workers' Party supported the protest of the trade unions on December 8. At the same time, we stressed that this is the battle of the trade unions. Parties shouldn't encroach on it.
Unfortunately, the liberal parties have encroached on the protest from the very first moment. For them the labour code was only a pretext. They are campaigning for the European elections. It's also regrettable that the trade unions leaders let them do it.
  1. There were further protests after 8 December too – but with a much smaller crowd –, also said to be against the amendment of the labour code. These were not organised by the trade unions, but by the liberal political forces, the Hungarian Socialist Party, the Democratic Coalition, the Momentum and others.
Other issues, such as the protection of the Soros founded Central European University, the freedom of education, gender have been added to the topics of the demonstrations, though they have nothing to do with the labour code.
The protests turned into open anti-government actions. The visible goal of the organisers was to provoke the police and made them use mass violence. Leaders of liberal parties have also been active during the protests.
  1. On December 11-12, during the session of Parliament the opposition parties wanted to paralyse voting the amendment of the labour code by submitting more than 2000 amendments. Later they tried to occupy the president's lectern.
The opposition parties want to regain their lost positions by „radicalisation”, but they are too weak for them. They haven't become radicals, they only copy Western methods.
  1. According to the Hungarian Workers' Party's evaluation it's not the massive dissatisfaction of the working classes which is behind the events. The people notice that the prices are going up, that the gap between the poor and the rich has been widening, and many protests the various steps of the government but we can't speak about a massive protest of the working classes.
The liberal political forces are behind the events, those who want to regain power. They try to win the support of the public opinion before the European elections in May 2019.
  1. The Hungarian Workers' Party hasn't taken part in the street actions. It doesn't support the actions of liberal political forces. It wants to avoid a scenario in which the ruling parties – with the pretext of the protests – starts attacking the real anti-capitalist forces, such as the Workers' Party.
The leadership of the Workers' Party asked the members who work in factories, the railway or schools to talk to the people. We should know what the workers, the working people actually want. We tell the working people that in the capitalist system theirs is only what they have been fighting for. The Workers' Party helps. But the party can't take over the fight of the workers, the working people and the trade unions. When the time comes, we'll go to the streets.
Hungarian Workers' Party (Magyar Munkáspárt).