Thursday, 21.06.18 - FES

Expert discussion on the current state of trade unions

The Hungarian trade union landscape is severely fragmented with more than 1,000 registered unions. The fall of membership levels over the past years led to the decline of the overall strength of the trade union movement. Unions face challenges not only by the new legal obstacles put in their way by the illiberal democracy but mainly due their self-inflicted credibility problem.

So, on 21 June 2018, on the occasion of the presentation of the study „Halfway between resignation and ascension – Current developments in the Hungarian trade union movement“ Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung invited leading representatives of trade union confederations, sectoral trade unions and company trade unions to a self-critical discussion of the current situation of unions in Hungary.

Different views were expressed during the discussion, among others, on how the currently limited strike law can be applied. While some trade union officials would increase pressure on employers and politics through more frequent strikes, other opinions suggest that active participation in background discussions is a more promising path to achieve the goals set. However, participants in the debate generally agreed that, in view of the very weak parliamentary opposition, the possibility of a full-fledged dialogue should be sought. Rainer Girndt, co-author of the study with strong ties to the Hungarian trade unions since many years, expressed his view that "trade unions should not limit their core activities to companies and other areas of the economy, but should  also regard themselves  as political actors without trying to act as a party. "


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