Dear Mr. President, Director-General,
Please allow me to express my congratulations on the election of Mr./Madam President and the Vice-Presidents.
I also congratulate the ILO on the important achievements mentioned in the 2-year report of the Director-General. Among the successes, we would emphasise the re-engineering of management and organisation within the ILO headquarters; while achievements thus far within the Strategic Policy Framework 2010-15 point us in the right direction in the long-term and also highlight the main targets for this and the next year.
We can recognise that the last two years have been a period of reform and consolidation, in which the ILO has actively and successfully, using significant financial resources, taken part in UN and other international work-related meetings, carried on the fight against poverty and struggled for social protection and basic human rights. The ILO has made relevant recommendations regarding the improvement and better efficiency of those activities, created drafts of international labour standards and worked on other important directives.
These activities bear witness to a strong affirmation of the ILO, in which we see a strengthening of its activities aiming at, and serving, the democratisation of the world of labour, as well as becoming more practice-oriented in its role. I’d like to express my full appreciation for the Report and also all the underlying efforts that may ensure, in the 21st century, the ILO’s determining role in the international world of labour according to the principles of the Declaration of Philadelphia. Henceforward, the ILO should strive everywhere for the emergence of real, fundamental social rights, and for their realisation in practice, and in the fight against poverty. This is of great importance for us because, regarding social rights, we also have a lot to do in Hungary, especially in regard to the fact that, in the process of elaborating the new Hungarian basic law, the constitutional protection of social security rights has been eliminated and both the income gap and poverty have been rising significantly.
In my view, the report of the Committee of Experts is key. The ILO Minimum Wage Fixing Convention (No. 131) and the Study on the implementation of ILO Convention No. 135, based on national reports, also include references to Hungary. In Hungary, as my colleagues have reported to previous ILO Conferences, tripartite consultation encompassing the social partners does not work properly, among other issues regarding negotiations on the minimum wage.
According also to the Committee, the conditions for labour inspection, as a core element in respect for the minimum wage, have also deteriorated.
During this spring, Parliamentary elections were held in Hungary, with voters renewing their trust in the Parliamentary majority of the previous four years. Hungarian unions would prefer if, during the new governmental period, real tripartite negotiations were to take place on the economic and socio-political conditions that are necessary for economic growth and increasing employment, as well as on closing the pay and income gap, and on lifting of the position of the so-called working poor.
The statement of Report VI, on Employment Policies for Sustainable Recovery and Development, that “Six years into the financial and economic crisis, labour markets are in a state of disarray... and the prospect [is] of weak and uneven economic recovery in 2014 and probably beyond” is true for Hungary, as well. There is no real employment growth and the changes that do appear in the statistics have been generated by the new system of “public works” – a situation that may contravene the Forced Labour Convention No. 29/1930, since the law foresees punishment sanctions against people refusing to undertake public works. A significant number of employees has had no pay rise for years, while wage rates in public sector pay systems have been frozen since the onset of the crisis – six years now – which is already jeopardising the functioning of public services.
Hungarian unions believe that it is essential that, after the re-establishment of the Government, negotiations start on the Employment Act, on the diverse laws on the legal status of public employees, and on changes in the regulation of the labour law, as well as on the amendment of the provisions adopted in recent years that prohibit the collective enforcement of the interests and the functioning of trade unions.
The majority of Hungarian unions infer that these changes, that have wantonly and unnecessarily worsened the conditions of work, are also in conflict with the ILO Charter. We have sent in different submissions on these issues and have also informed delegated ILO representatives on the occasion of personal meetings with them.
The Hungarian economic and social situation, and thus that of Hungarian employees, is not easy. This has partly to do with the crisis that started in 2008 and which still has its effects; and, in the other part, also with the Hungarian government and the political and economic actors not always being able to meet the challenges. Hungarian unions have obtained help from different places in order to fulfil their tasks under these changing and frequently deteriorating conditions. The ILO’s Regional Office in Budapest belongs among those helpers. In the name of the Hungarian unions, I express our many thanks for the support of the employees of the Office.
Dear Mr. President,
I also take this opportunity to express my thanks to Mr. Guy Ryder, Director-General who, shortly after his election, visited Budapest in January 2013 and made an exceptionally topical presentation entitled „Youth Employment in the Crisis: the response of the ILO”. We are glad that the ILO – via its Office and Hungarian contacts – is aware of the Hungarian political and legal situation and, as a consequence, that we understand each other in just a few words when talking about the situation facing Hungarian employees. Mr. Ryder has seen many old friends in Hungary from whom he has obtained detailed information.
Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your kind attention. I wish you great success for the remaining work of the Conference!