Salem Radio Network News Sunday, November 27, 2022

World

Protesters block Budapest bridge in support of Hungarian teachers

BUDAPEST (Reuters) – Thousands of Hungarian students, teachers and parents blocked a Budapest bridge near parliament on Wednesday in support of teachers fighting for higher wages and teachers sacked for protesting.

Teachers have launched an “I want to teach” campaign and called for civil disobedience to demand higher wages, a solution to a deepening shortage of teachers, and the right to strike.

Protesters carrying banners saying “Do not sack our teachers” and “For a glimpse of the future, look at the schools of the present” filled a Budapest bridge, blocking traffic in the biggest anti-government demonstration since another blockade over a tax hike on small businesses in July.

The rally had been due to march to a main square outside parliament later in the evening.

Trade unions had called a nationwide teachers’ strike for Wednesday. After a nationwide teachers’ strike in January 2022, the government restricted strike action.

Several teachers were dismissed last week at a Budapest secondary school for joining the protest.

Earlier on Wednesday students formed a chain stretching for kilometres (miles) across the Hungarian capital. Some held up banners “No teachers, no future” and “Who will teach tomorrow?”, while cars passing in the morning traffic blew horns in support.

“The state of our public education is so bad that talented people leave the country, go to university in other countries and do not envisage their lives here,” said Gergely Forizs, a parent, who joined the morning rally.

“There is no future like that. We do not see the future of our children ensured here.”

Nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was re-elected for a fourth consecutive term on April 3, faces a mounting challenge as the economy is heading into recession next year, with inflation in double digits.

The government said it would hike teachers’ wages once the European Commission releases EU recovery funding to Hungary which has been withheld amid a rule-of-law dispute.

Parliament speaker Laszlo Kover, a senior member of Orban’s ruling Fidesz party, told HirTV on Monday that teachers’ wages were lagging average earnings but strikes were not the way to achieve a solution.

“I am sure that strikes won’t help… as everyone knows that the level of wages is in no way related to the quality of teaching in the short term,” Kover said.

($1 = 421.09 forints)

(Reporting by Krisztina Than and Krisztina Fenyo; Editing by Michael Perry)

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