Hungarian teachers skip work to protest low pay, defying Orban’s warning of job cuts

(Bloomberg) – Thousands of teachers have walked off the job across Hungary to protest low pay, defying a warning from Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government that they risk losing their jobs if they do.

Parents and pupils have also united in solidarity, in some cases forming human chains outside of schools, the Telex news site reported on Friday. They also protested against poor working conditions, high workload and state interference in the school curriculum.

Hungarian teachers accuse government of pressuring protests

The walkouts raise the stakes for the Hungarian prime minister, whose government has taken a hardline approach against teachers. Hungarian teachers earn the second lowest salary among the 38 member countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.|

Authorities fired five secondary school teachers in September for civil disobedience, prompting a nationwide strike earlier that month and a protest by tens of thousands in Budapest. Teachers across the country then received notices telling them that they could be fired from their jobs the next time they took part in a strike.

Orban’s government has linked increases in teachers’ salaries to access to billions of euros in European Union funds, which are currently blocked due to the alleged spread of corruption during the reign of 12 years of the Prime Minister.

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Laura T. Thrasher