Finance Minister Mihály Varga, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony, opposition Socialists and LMP and other left-wing parties and organisations marked Labour Day on Saturday. Varga said on Facebook that labour undisputably deserves to be respected.
At the same time, he slammed left-wing parties for trying to gain profit from a “fake promise” of an unconditional basic income. He said the left-wing parties failed to mention that in order to generate the resources necessary, states would have to increase taxes and reduce family allowances. “What’s even worse, they would be forced to take out loans, which would result in a sky-rocketing public debt,” he added. “On Labour Day, it is worth stating once again that Hungary is making progress because of work and not because of unemployment,” he said. The number of jobholders increased from 3.7 million to 4.5 million in ten years, Varga said, adding that “this is why we will continue with an economic policy based on job protection and creation”.
In a Facebook post, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said it was mandatory to build a country where better living circumstances are not the privilege of a few and where the state focuses on the demands of 99% of its citizens rather than the private interests of a privileged 1%. He called for a system of guaranteed work which means that people who lose their jobs can opt for joining a state employment company instead of getting severance pay. Karácsony said the costs of such a guaranteed work scheme could be financed from European Union resources. Deputy-head of the opposition Socialists Imre Komjáthi told an online press conference on Facebook that on Labour Day it is necessary to address the most important problem for workers, which is low wages. In order to guarantee sufficient living standards, the Socialists have proposed making the minimum wage exempt from the personal income tax, he added. The measure would help some 2.3 million Hungarians, he said. Co-leader of opposition LMP Máté Kanász-Nagy told an online press conference on Facebook that employees should get back their rights and means of support. The Hungarian state must guarantee a livelihood for employers and their families, especially in the difficult circumstances of the coronavirus epidemic. He accused the government of making Hungary dependent on international capital and multinationals, and reducing social security by restricting workers’ rights.