Jobbik's wage union initiative to create Eastern Central European cooperation

Jobbik started building bridges in Eastern Central Europe to promote a European wage union. The largest Hungarian opposition party has been seeking allies in Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Estonia and Latvia. Jobbik MP Márton Gyöngyösi, the vice chairman of the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee said the European wage union initiative is a cause that could help Eastern Central Europe to define itself, enabling the region’s states to overcome ethnic division and take a joint action to solve their common problems.

Jobbik’s president Gábor Vona announced on 18 November last year that he was going to make 18 important  statements on the 18th day of each month to lay the cornerstones of a future people's party programme and the pillars of the bridges to connect the different segments of Hungarian society. As his second personal commitment, the party president pledged to  struggle for the elimination of wage inequalities in Europe. To that end, he wants to launch an EU referendum known as the European Citizens' Initiative so that the "European wage union" could be enacted as a fundamental principle of the EU: “Equal wages for equal work!" Mr Vona announced the guideline for Jobbik’s proposal. To launch a European citizens’ initiative and make the European Commission put the issue on its agenda,  you need to collect one million signatures in seven EU member states within a year. So Jobbik’s foreign affairs delegation went on a tour to find allies in Eastern Central Europe. The delegation was received by the Patriotic Front in Bulgaria, the national youth party GO! in Croatia, the Conservative People’s Party in Estonia, and  the National Alliance in Latvia. In Slovakia and Romania, Jobbik-related private individuals will support the party’s initiative, while in Slovenia - although still subject to confirmation - an independent MP. Jobbik’s delegation is going to meet the members of the Polish Solidarity trade union in early March.

„Our initiative has been received with open ears from the very beginning,”  Mr Gyöngyösi told us. He emphasized that the elimination of European wage inequalities is particularly important in the Baltic States since they suffer  the highest emigration rate of young citizens in proportion with the total population. „What we said about the impacts of the wage gap in Hungary applies to a far greater extent to the Baltic States,”  he asserted. In Mr Gyöngyösi’s view, it is generally observed that ever since these states have been trying to close the gap by conducting a neoliberal economic policy and reduce the differences in living standards, instead of getting closer to the Western level, they actually got further from it, especially after joining the EU. “Estonian youth have two options now: stay home and work for starvation wages in an assembly plant of some multinational company or go abroad,” the MP outlined the Baltic reality.

Mr Gyöngyösi warned that if ambitious, active higher education graduates leave the countries with declining demographic trends, it could have a devastating effect on taxation, healthcare as well as social security and could trigger a crisis with unforeseeable consequences. “Either we stop this process or the whole of Eastern Central Europe will have to face an economic-social trauma,” the MP emphasized. He also added that even if the necessary corrections are made,  it will still take decades for the first positive effects to appear.

Mr Gyöngyösi pointed out that a wage union was in the interest of Western Europe as well, since the free movement of workers had been generating tensions and anti-immigrant sentiments against those coming from Eastern Europe. Furthermore, he believes the Eurozone cannot be strong as long as the EU’s current economic policy stays in place and the centre keeps draining the resources from the periphery. “Sooner or later, it will cause the end of the Eurozone. This kind of policy is short-sighted as it goes on a path leading to instability,” he added.

Fidesz government maintains Eastern wage level

In the opposition party’s view, Fidesz keeps silent and lies idly by while Hungary becomes completely empty as hundred thousands of people leave the country due to the low wages and lack of prospects. Jobbik finds it unfortunate that the government shows no effort whatsoever to reduce the gap between Hungarian and Western European wages and they never stipulated anything to that effect in the strategic agreements with multinational companies, either. “The Fidesz government drives Hungarian people away and wants to replace them by cheap imported labour,” Jobbik said earlier.

Talking about the European wage union, Mr Gyöngyösi expressed how important it was for Eastern Central Europe to find a common cause that could help in its self-definition. “Eastern Central Europe has a special destiny and situation between East and West. Finally, we need to turn to each other and find a joint solution for our common problems and abandon this self-destructive policy of allowing ourselves to be divided and manipulated by great powers on the Eastern and the Western side,” he asserted. The MP said that they were going to organize a conference in Budapest where they would ceremoniously announce the launch of the European wage union initiative in an international press conference.


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