Hungary at odds over new law on teacher status
The Hungarian parliament has passed a controversial law on the legal status of teachers. Critics are calling it a "vengeance law" against teachers who have long been demonstrating for higher salaries and education reform. The legislation provides for a salary increase, but this is linked to the receipt of funds which the EU is currently withholding due to concerns about the rule of law in the country.
Teachers treated like education soldiers
The government wants to solve the problems in the school system through repression, says Népszava:
“For months, teachers’ unions, professional associations and NGOs, students and parents have been protesting against the adoption and introduction of the status law because it doesn’t contain a real solution to the challenges in the public education system: the growing teacher shortage, overburdened teaching staff, the restriction of teaching freedom and deteriorating education standards. Instead, the law further curtails the rights of teachers, institutions and their representatives, extends compulsory overtime options and makes it possible for the remaining teachers to be moved around as if they were soldiers.”
Higher salaries, more flexibility
The pro-government daily Magyar Nemzet sees opportunities for improvements in the school system:
“Let’s put aside all emotions, however justified we think they are, and think calmly about what has changed. It is now established by law that the sacrifices made by teaching staff must be rewarded with salaries much higher than those they currently receive. ... The new status provides greater flexibility in dealing with any labour law problems and disputes that may arise and gives both employees and employers more room for manoeuvre. This is how one could sum up the intention of the governing majority.”