Railway strikes are getting shorter and shorter

I must admit that I was surprised yesterday afternoon when I heard that István Gaskó, trade union leader of the VDSzSz, had embarked on yet another railway strike.The strike began at midnight on Sunday and was, according to Gaskó, to be of indefinite duration. In this case "indefinite" meant "really short."

I woke Monday morning to the news that the strike was over; it had ended at 9:00 a.m. At 6:00 a.m. Gaskó still seemed very sure of himself when he was the guest on Napkelte. What happened in between? The answer seems to be quite simple: hardly anyone supported the strike. According to MTI (the Hungarian news agency), out of the scheduled 964 passenger trains 648 were running. Between midnight and 6 a.m. only 81 of the 1,735 employees on the shift were on strike. Yes, only 81. Between midnight and 9 a.m. 73 of the 2,746 workers were on strike. At MÁV-Start out of almost 2,000 employees only 333 didn’t work. That’s called a real flop!

On Napkelte Ferenc Pallagi inquired about the level of participation from Gaskó. Gaskó, who looked a bit mournful, answered that as far as he knew Hungarian rail traffic was "paralyzed," although he added that MÁV’s management "ran some empty railroad cars," which was nothing but a waste of money. He was equally optimistic about the duration of the strike. His men are determined. If necessary they will hold out, just like the German workers, for half a year. And what about the strike fund? According to Gaskó this is the least of their problems. They have plenty of money. After all, they haven’t struck for seven years and therefore they have plenty of money. Moreover, other trade unions are helping them financially. Of course, there seems to me a bit of a contradiction here. If the VDSzSz is swimming in money, why do they need financial help from other trade unions?

This afternoon at 3:00 p.m. the negotiations continued. Neither side is giving in, but somehow I have the feeling that it will not be István Gaskó who will come out victorious from this affair.

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Eva Balogh

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