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3rd January, 2019

Teachers union preparing for strike

More than 5,000 people have signed a petition circulated by the Democratic Union of Teachers (PDSZ), demanding changes in working hours and higher salaries, union president Tamas Szucs told Inforadio on Wednesday.

One demand is higher wages for those employees who are not hired as teachers and are paid according to the public service employees salary table, 80% of whom are paid the minimum wage, he added.

The union also demands that staff be paid for overtime hours and that teachers’ workload be reviewed.

Since other teachers’ unions have not taken a stand on these matters, PDSZ has swung into action on its own.

“It is certain that if other unions do not go on strike, then PDSZ will go it alone, even among the teachers’ unions,” Szucs declared.

The collection of signatures slowed down slightly last month as “events have overtaken it,” he said, referring to the more general protest waves.

The union will announce its formal demands at the trade union demonstration on January 5.

Negotiations with appropriate representatives of the cabinet can begin after that, Szucs said. (infostart.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Fidesz spent Ft 20mn on parties

The Fidesz caucus spent Ft 20 million on celebrations before Christmas, Nepszava reported, citing documents uploaded to the uvegzseb (glass pocket) page of the legislature’s official website parliament.hu

Fidesz spent Ft 8.7 million on a standing reception on December 17 and Ft 11.7 million a day later on another festive event.

Caucus leader Mate Kocsis and Eszter Rozgonyi signed the contracts on behalf of the caucus.

The highly expensive standing reception was organised by Csonakazoto caterers, which last year organised two parliamentary functions commissioned by Fidesz.

The other event was arranged by Rendezvenyguru, which has organised several gatherings for the Fidesz caucus.

The Ft 11.7 million sum was included in contracts to which the public procurement law does not apply, the documents reveal.

Szilvia Varga, a member of Rendezvenyguru, has organised Fidesz programmes for more than a decade, and was formerly on the board of trustees of the Public Services Foundation of state media.

Rendezvenyguru received a Ft 13 million commission in connection with the 1956 memorial year in 2017. Later that year it was commissioned to organise a nearly Ft 11 million party for Fidesz in the Balna building, for an event closing a national consultation campaign. (nepszava.hu; 168ora.hu; hvg.hu; index.hu; 444.hu)
3rd January, 2019

More police than demonstrators in Buda Castle

A heavy police presence was in place in Buda Castle on Wednesday morning in preparation for a protest rally outside the new Prime Minister’s Office which attracted only about a dozen participants.

The activists held up signs reading: “Viktor, the Castle Belongs to Everyone” while organiser Marta Naszaly of the Dialogue party delivered a short speech.

In principle, the gathering was scheduled for Orban’s first working day in his new office, but the prime minister was still in Brazil, where he attended Tuesday’s inauguration of President Jair Bolsonaro.

Naszaly told reporters that the relocation of the PMO and the Finance Ministry to the Castle is an unnecessary waste of money.

Asked why they did not organise a demonstration involving all the opposition parties, Naszaly said other parties had been invited, but “it is very early, the year has just begun,” and that she, as a First District councillor, can say what the opposition parties think about that.

The protest lasted for seven minutes. (hvg.hu; index.hu; infostart.hu; nepszava.hu; hirtv.hu; atv.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Higher pay rises than planned for soldiers

Soldiers and defence sector employees will receive higher pay hikes than originally planned, Defence Ministry state secretary Szilard Nemeth announced on Wednesday.

The cabinet decided in 2015 to gradually raise soldiers’ salaries by 50% and the last 5% increase is due now in January. However, instead of the 5% raise, salaries are going up 7.4%.

Nemeth also said that civilian staff working for the armed forces – who are classified in the new category of defence affairs employees from this year – will receive a 35% salary raise over four years.

The 20% raise to be effected in January, depending on qualifications, means an increase of Ft 39,200-74,100 for defence employees.

The increase for teachers employed by the armed forces could be Ft 45,300-79,300. (hirado.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu; echotv.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Pay increase for police officers

The salaries of professional police officers eligible for pay hikes rose by 5% on average from January 1, in accordance with the fifth phase of the wage hike launched for law enforcement staff in 2015, Interior Ministry state secretary Karoly Kontrat announced on Wednesday.

He said the salaries of professional police officers have risen by 50% on average since 2015.

The monthly salary of a senior detective with ten years of service and a higher education degree has grown from Ft 302,000 in 2015 to Ft 471,000 today.

Kontrat affirmed that, as further recognition of high-standard police work, the cabinet has laid aside Ft 12 billion to pay bonuses for good performance. (atv.hu; origo.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu; nepszava.hu; hirtv.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Opposition primary starts on Monday

The opposition parties’ primary process to select a candidate for mayor of Budapest begins on Monday, the head of the Socialists Budapest chapter, Zsolt Molnar, told a Wednesday press conference.

Molnar confirmed that the Socialist candidate is city councillor Csaba Horvath.

He added that the process is open to any candidate in Budapest.

So far, the Socialist, Democratic Coalition and Dialogue parties have joined the primary process.

Momentum, Jobbik and LMP did not join the process. LMP has indicated that it supports independent candidate Robert Puzser.

Declaring that a single candidate has the best chance to defeat incumbent Istvan Tarlos in Budapest, Molnar said the same may be true of other municipalities with Fidesz mayors.

This is why the Socialist Party is open for co-operation not only regarding street protests, but also in preparations for the European Parliament and municipal elections, Molnar added.

In answer to a question, he said he trusts that the mayoral candidate will be chosen by February 3. (atv.hu; hirtv.hu; 444.hu; index.hu; hvg.hu; mandiner.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Orban’s air fleet outlined

Prime Minister Viktor Orban may have flown on at least five special planes to foreign destinations in 2018, the website Atlatszo reports.

The government makes a secret of the costs of Orban’s official and private visits, and the armed forces have consistently claimed to Atlatszo that the two Airbus and the two Falcon aircraft used by the prime minister are not government planes, but were bought for military purposes.

With this stance, officials can refuse to disclose the procurement price of the planes and the costs of operating them by referring to national security considerations and by claiming that Orban’s trips are part of pilots’ training flights.

Atlatszo’s investigations produced a list of planes Orban may have flown on, but did not discover who may have paid for which trip.

In early February of 2018, the armed forces bought two Airbus A319 planes, and the prime minister used them several times, despite the fact that then defence minister Istvan Simicsko said the planes were not government aircraft.

Orban flew on the “non-government planes” to Israel, Montenegro, Moscow and Salzburg and flew on board military aircraft for official visits to Kirghizstan in September and Prague and Zagreb in November.

Orban also repeatedly travelled on board the Bombardier Global 6000 Austrian-registered private jet that is used by Lorinc Meszaros, and on the OTP luxury aircraft. On Monday Orban flew on board a Dassault Falcon 7X luxury jet to attend the inauguration of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. (atlatszo.hu; hvg.hu; nepszava.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Unemployment falls to 3.6%

The average unemployment rate was 3.6% in the three-month period of September-November, down from 3.8% a year earlier, the Central Statistics Office announced on Wednesday.

The average length of unemployment was 14.6 months in September-November, when 38.5% of the unemployed had been out of work for more than a year.

Figures from state employment service NFSZ show the number of registered unemployed at 243,900 at the end of November, down 5.5% from one year earlier. (ksh.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Employment rises to 70%

The average number of employed persons was 4.495 million in the three-month period of September-November, up by 44,000 from a year earlier, the Central Statistics Office reports.

The employment rate in the 15-64 age group was 69.7%, up from 68.8%.

The number of employed in the 15-24 age group stood at 306,000, for an employment rate of 29.9%, unchanged compared to one year earlier.

In the 55-64 age group the number of employed grew to 708,000 from 687,000, as the employment rate rose from 52.5% to 55.8%. (ksh.hu; napi.hu; portfolio.hu; hvg.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; magyaridok.hu)
3rd January, 2019

EU transfers huge amount of funds

The EU transferred Ft 780 billion to Hungary in December, according to calculations by Portfolio, an outstandingly high amount, the business news website added.

Including this sum, total EU transfers in 2018 reached Ft 1.451 trillion, not far short of the Ft 1.597 trillion paid by the state as advance payments on EU-financed projects.

Hungary has received 31% of the EU funds allocated to it for the 2014-20 budget period. This puts the country 11th on the usage list led by Finland with 52%, but above the EU average of 27%.

Hungary received Ft 2.550 trillion of EU fund transfers in 2017 and Ft 2.099 trillion in 2016. (portfolio.hu)
3rd January, 2019

New car sales up 18% in 2018

A total of 136,600 new cars were sold in Hungary in 2018, a 17.5% rise from the previous year, according to estimates by market researcher Data House.

December car sales, however, fell to 9,685, a 10.6% drop from 10,837 a year earlier.

Sales of light business vehicles went up by 14% last year to 22,725.

In December, a total of 2,780 light business vehicles were sold, an 18.7% rise.

Motorbike sales amounted to 2,986 last year, up 30.9%, despite a 6.8% drop in December to 55. (index.hu; napi.hu; magyarhirlap.hu; origo.hu; portfolio.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Hatvan sports arena exceeds costs

Eger construction company Variabau has won the contract to build a handball and sports centre in Hatvan for Ft 3.6 billion, according to public procurement gazette Kozbeszerzesi Ertesito.

Originally, the local handball sports club, which ordered the construction, estimated the costs at Ft 2.7 billion.

The government provided a Ft 2 billion subsidy to the project, of which Ft 700 million was allocated as extra funds in November.

According to company data service provider Opten, Variabau has only 17 employees and realised Ft 323 million in revenues in 2017, up from less than Ft 100 million a year earlier. (24.hu; napi.hu; index.hu; nepszava.hu)
3rd January, 2019

MET to build wind farm in Serbia

Hungarian-owned energy company MET has signed an agreement with Serbian oil and energy company NIS on jointly building a 100MW wind farm in Plandiste, Vojvodina, Portfolio reports.

NIS will invest €140 million in the construction, to be completed by the first half of 2020.

Swiss-registered MET and NIS will each have a 50% stake in the joint venture.

Russian gas company Gazprom owns 56.2% of NIS and the Serbian government has a 29.9% stake in it. (portfolio.hu)
3rd January, 2019

IKEA closing earlier on Sundays

Beginning on January 6, IKEA shops in Hungary are closing at 7 p.m. on Sundays, two hours earlier than the 9 p.m. closing time valid in 2018, the subsidiary of the Swedish furniture retailer announced on Wednesday.

IKEA outlets will be open between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Sundays.

The new opening time will be tested for a three-month period and the final decision will be made after feedback from customers.

The shorter opening hours do not mean any dismissals, as labour will be reshuffled to otherwise busy hours, IKEA underlined. (444.hu; napi.hu; nepszava.hu; origo.hu; portfolio.hu; index.hu)
3rd January, 2019

State fashion agency moves to villa

State fashion and design agency Magyar Divat es Design has moved to a villa on Istenhegyi ut in Budapest’s 12th District, news website 24 reports.

The agency was founded before the general elections in 2018, by splitting off a department of the state tourism agency MTU.

Zsofia Bata-Jakab, a friend of the prime minister’s daughter Rahel Orban, was appointed to head the new agency.

The agency uses state funds to promote those Hungarian fashion companies abroad which maintain good relations with Rahel Orban, website 24 writes.

Cabinet Office Minister Antal Rogan announced the development of a unified fashion and design strategy nearly a year ago. He said in early 2018, before the agency was set up, that the government was going to take control of the co-ordination of the Hungarian fashion industry and was developing a strategy for this business sector. After this announcement, the government allocated Ft 1.9 billion to state tourism agency MTU for the development of a country brand.

A Fashion Industry Marketing Directorate was created within the MTU and Bata-Jakab was appointed as its first leader. Later she was appointed head of the fashion agency. (24.hu; napi.hu; hvg.hu; index.hu; nepszava.hu)
3rd January, 2019

BSE turnover lower in December

Turnover on the Budapest Stock Exchange came to Ft 393.4 billion in December, down 1.9% from one year earlier, the BSE announced on Wednesday.

However, December’s average daily turnover of Ft 11.6 billion was an increase from the Ft 10.2 billion of one year earlier.

Among brokerages, Concorde realised the largest turnover, Ft 89.3 billion, regaining the leading position from Wood, which headed the list in November.

Wood recorded turnover of Ft 87.8 billion last month, followed by Erste with Ft 76.5 billion, Equilor with Ft 33.1 billion and OTP brokers with Ft 22.3 billion. (portfolio.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Pedestrian killed on M3

A dead body was discovered on the side of the M3 motorway Wednesday morning at the 11km mark, police have announced.

Police later identified the body as that of a woman who had been struck by a car on the motorway.

Police cameras revealed that the driver ran over a woman walking on the motorway at around 1.10 a.m. Wednesday as he was driving towards Mogyorod.

The woman sustained such severe injuries that she died on the spot.

The driver continued on without providing assistance.

The car’s rear-view mirror broke off in the accident, which helped police to identify the vehicle.

Detectives arrested a 20-year-old resident of Gyomro, and began proceedings against him for failing to provide assistance. (hvg.hu; index.hu; 24.hu; propeller.hu; blikk.hu)
3rd January, 2019

Hungarian wrestler wins world honour

Two-time world and European champion Peter Bacsi was elected Greco-Roman style wrestler of the year by the United World Wrestling (UWW) organisation on Wednesday.

The Hungarian federation said 35-year-old Bacsi won the recognition by becoming the world champion in the 82-kilogram category at the world wrestling championships in Budapest, and also won the gold medal at the Granma y Cerro Pelado international rankings contest in Cuba early last year.

Bacsi’s title comes with a SFr10,000 reward from UWW. (atv.hu)

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