On 6 December 2013 the founding congress of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation took place in Budapest.
(from l.t.r.) László Varga (SZEF), Péter Pataky (MSZOSZ),
Bernadette Ségol (ETUC), Tamás Székely (ASZSZ)
Through the integration of the Autonomous Trade Union Confederation (ASZSZ), the National Confederation of Hungarian Trade Unions (MSZOSZ) and the Forum for the Co-operation of Trade Unions (SZEF) the largest interest representation organisation in Hungary has been created with 250,000 active and 100,000 pensioner members.
The new confederation aims at more efficient representation of workers, employees in the private, public sectors and in public utilities.
The message of the congress, as stated by Péter Pataky (MSZOSZ)is that workers, employees must not be afraid, since without them there is no performance, achievements. Working people should know that “they do not stand alone - the union backs them”. The new unified confederation will be a correct negotiating partner to the employers and the government, but will not make any compromise which would worsen the lives of the people. The confederation expects to be heard at every forum of interest concertation.
Tamás Székely, president of the ASZSZ criticised the government for not “liking” employees and not recognising trade unions – therefore this unification is the right step in the right moment for maintaining the independence of unions. The compromises among the integrating partners serve the maintaining of the autonomy of the branches and provide ground for the remaking of solidarity among them.
László Varga president of (SZEF) underlined the necessity of strengthening solidarity, uniting intellectual, material resources, and while preserving the past and present values, building a unified, effective organisational model to meet the challenges. Varga stated that the new confederation is not aimed against anyone, it is open to all trade unions, confederations. It aims at more effective representation and defence of common interests of Hungarian employees regardless of sectors, workplaces and employers. “We should dare to be national and European at the same time, as the two values can be strengthened only together.”
On behalf of the employers’ federations, Dr. Zs. Szőke Zoltán, chairman of the ÁFEOSZ-Coop group addressed the congress, emphasising that this day the Hungarian trade union movement is part of a historical event. He underlined that employers and workers, employees have common interests: to be more successful as actors of the economy, and to provide and secure workplaces with decent wages for more people.
The unification congress was adressed by Bernadette Ségol, secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation, who congratulated to this step, stating that the unification is beneficial to the union members and to the whole of the trade union movement: „unity is your strength, because your strength is increasing the strength of the whole trade union movement.” (see on the right in Documentation).
A number of partner trade unions from abroad have also sent messages of greetings to the congress.