On behalf of the Hungarian Workers’ Party I would like to thank our Greek comrades for organizing our meeting.
We came to this meeting to study your experience. Some of the participating parties have very deep roots in the trade union movement. Your actual experience of work in the trade unions is of enormous importance for all of us.
What can we see in Hungary?
The Hungarian trade union movement is weak and politically divided. Only 12% of the Hungarian workers and employees are members of trade unions. During socialism this index was 100%!
The level of organization is very different in various areas. Practically there are no trade unions in the agriculture. In constructing industry only 2% of workers belong to trade unions. In commerce 9% are trade union members. On the other hand, 19% of teachers, 17% of medical workers are members of trade unions. The trade unions are also relatively strong in public service, transport, energy industry.
The trade unions have better positions in state owned companies. 19.5% of state employees belong to trade unions. In private companies only 4% are organized workers. The level of organization is higher in large companies than in smaller ones.
There are great differences in the age structure of organized workers. Most of the trade union members are older than 40 years. Only 4% of the young generations join the trade unions.
The level of the anticapitalist struggle of the trade unions is very low. Strikes are organized very rarely. In 2014 only 0.3 of the companies had strikes. There are more strikes in education and health service.
The trade unions are fragmented by political, professional and sometimes by clearly personal aspects. In the Budapest public transport, for example, there are at least 20 different trade unions.
Trade unions for a long time were splitted in six competing confederations. In 2013 three of them set up a new confederation, MSZSZ (Hungarian Trade Union Confederation) , as an umbrella body. There is currently real competition between unions both in industries and in individual companies, particularly in large state-owned companies.
Some of the confederations are close to the social democrats, some of them to liberal forces. There are also conservative rightwing trade unions.
The Hungarian Workers’ Party pays great importance to the work in the trade unions and with the trade unions.
We have very concrete difficulties.
First, we have not enough active workers and employees in the party. Many of our comrades are older people who do not have contact with working places.
Second, most of our younger comrades working in factories and companies do not have political and professional experience.
Third, people are often afraid to have contact with communists and generally to speak about politics during working time.
What can we do?
We started to work with the trade unions of the Budapest public transport. We have some comrades who are working in the public transport. We support their strikes and other actions with our political declarations. We have some forms of dialogue with trade union leaders.
We have some positions in the trade unions of education workers. Most of them, though tolerate the participants of communists, do not support us yet.
We do not have actual contacts with the confederations. Most of them do not want to get any contact with communists.
Although 30 years have passed in capitalism the Hungarian working class is still learning class struggle. And it is our task to help to learn it.
Using this opportunity, I would like to inform you shortly about the recent parliamentary elections in Hungary.
The current governing party Fidesz headed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban won the elections. They have 134 seats, two-thirds of the seats in the parliament. The rightwing Jobbik party got 25 seats. The Socialist Party has 20 seats.
The Fidesz used two instruments to influence the public opinion. On the one hand, the Orban-government gave a lot to different social groups, including better salaries, lighter taxes etc. Nobody got as much as they wanted but everybody got enough to “shut up”. On the other hand, the government used the existing problem of migration as a strong political weapon to mobilize the public opinion to support the government.
The socialist-liberal opposition did not have either any concrete mobilizing program or charismatic leaders. They tried to undermine political stability, to create uncertainty and to mobilize the people but they failed.
The Hungarian Workers’ Party has worked a lot. We had candidates in 57 of 106 electoral districts. We have directed all our forces to campaign work. But we had to face enormous difficulties. We have been absolutely isolated from media, especially television. A lot of small parties were created to take away the votes of our party. There were 23 parties on the voting ballot, at least half of them were fake or newly organised. A new law was adopted on the financing of elections which was a big blow for our party. As a result we received 0.3% of the votes. It means that we are on the 9th place among the 23 parties.
Now we should solve some very unpleasant questions. We must dismiss some party workers because of the lack of money. We should stop some necessary developments, to cut down propaganda expenditure.
But I can assure you that we never give up and we will continue our fight against capitalism and for socialism.