After the 1956 Uprising, Workers’ Councils stood longest for the revolutionary spirit and the ideal of workers’ self-government until they were banned on 17 November 1957.
MOSZ, the National Federation of Workers’ Councils was founded in 1990, at the time of the political changeover, to continue revolutionary traditions and to operate as a true democratic grassroots advocacy organisation thereby providing an alternative to trade unions that were minions of the State party.
MOSZ history – the trade union that spoke out for fair privatisation
The first Workers’ Council was established in Herend in August 1989. Seeing that management distributed massive bonuses among themselves while employees were given no share of the successful company’s riches, workers raised their voice. At the time the Herend workers were not yet aware of Act II of 1989 providing for the right to association and to establish new advocacies. The Second Conference of the Workers’ Councils formulated the need to create an alliance which could exercise a greater effect on high politics. This led to the formation of approximately 50 workers’ councils in early 1990. At the conference staged in one of the sports halls in Budapest on 14 July 1990, the delegates of workers’ councils resolved that their increasingly unified movement would continue as the National Federation of Workers’ Councils, MOSZ by its Hungarian acronym. The Programme Statement of MOSZ confirms the effort (already embraced by the Workers’ Councils in 1956) to help workers acquire personal property in the course of privatisation in the context of preferential schemes, an effort that subsequently led to ESOP (see archives), and to take firm steps against spontaneous privatisation.
1990 Programme Statement
At its meeting on 5-6 February 1993, the Board of the National Federation of Workers’ Councils passed a decision that MOSZ would affiliate to the international Christian trade union confederation WCL. The decision determined MOSZ’ place in the Hungarian trade union movement along Christian values.
The National Federation of Workers’ Councils is committed to advocating for workers’ interests and considers its historical roots important. Its programme based on personal development, solidarity, responsibility for the family, and respect for decent work is based on Christian values.
MOSZ supports and encourages its member organisations to recruit new members as it is a vital interest for all unionised persons to reinforce their union through increasing membership and thus ensure successful protection of workers’ interests.
MOSZ is a shaper of workers’ living and working conditions in Hungary as well as internationally. The Federation is an active participant of national bipartite and tripartite reconciliation forums where it regularly speaks out for workers’ interests.
- Advocacy work is supported by a nationally and internationally renowned team of experts.
- MOSZ formulates open, consistent and professionally justified demands. An advocate of dialogue, it aims at reaching agreements with its social partners at various levels of reconciliation of interests.
- MOSZ members are organisations established as independent legal entities by salaried workers in the competitive and service sectors, the armed forces and law enforcement. MOSZ has a nationwide penetration with county and industry level associations, which provide various forms of support (legal, advocacy, economics, etc.) to member organisations to improve the efficiency of their day-to-day work besides being active at regional and sectoral forums in Hungary and internationally. Though its international relations MOSZ has access to international (Belgian, Swiss, Dutch, etc.) professional and educational materials developed for trade unions.
- MOSZ undertakes to assist with the establishment of branches outside the workplace, in neighbourhoods (civil workers’ councils) to strengthen unity in the fight for the dignity and fair wages of workers.
- The National Federation of Workers’ Councils extends legal aid in labour matters to its unionised workers through its nationwide network of consultants.
Chronology of major events
- From its inception MOSZ has recognised that progress is only possible if it breaks with the rigid opposition between capital and labour and champions employees’ ownership besides the traditional goals of trade unions. The Employee Share Option Programme (ESOP) was adopted by the Hungarian Parliament in 1992.
- MOSZ launched the “Buy Hungarian to Protect Your Job” campaign in 1992.
- At the so-called social elections of trade unions in 1993 MOSZ emerged as the second strongest trade union of Hungary.
- Whilst the government led by Mr Antall was in power MOSZ contacted the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in an effort to protect stewards and trade union officers, and protested against the austerity measures known as the Bokros Package.
- At the national reconciliation forums MOSZ has always fought hard for the European harmonisation of wages. It has emphasized the importance of introducing an industry-based wage tariff system since the mid-1990s.
- At a rally on 1st May 2006 MOSZ member organisations protested against the injuries workers suffered in the workplace. A joint trade union demonstration was staged on 8 July in protest of the austerity measures imposed by the Gyurcsány administration. On 13 October the Christian Teachers’ Union, a member of MOSZ, held a demonstration, and on 28 October, MOSZ and the trade union federation Liga jointly demonstrated against the government’s anti-worker policy.
- On 28 September 2007 MOSZ joined forces with the National Association of Large Families. More than thirty thousand demonstrated in protest of the rapid dismantling of public services, Hungary’s social and economic erosion, and the continued selling out of national assets.
- In 2008 MOSZ participated in the “Save Social Security” campaign as a result of which the government was forced to withdraw its proposal to partially privatise the social security funds.
- MOSZ continues to put the protection of workers’ interests at the workplace in the centre of its activity. This is justified by the prolonged economic crisis, the cuts imposed by government, and, above all, by the changes in the legal framework of advocacy enshrined in the new Labour Code that entered into effect on 1st July 2012.
- An important change is that the new Labour Code transferred a whole range of advocacy and consultative powers from the trade unions to works councils. It is therefore important that works councils should have members who are also MOSZ unionists. MOSZ promotes the professional preparation of works council members by training programmes so that works councils should be real partners of employers.
- MOSZ participates in the development of the legal aid Jogpont+ supporting legal assistance and remedy to individuals.
- In the wake of historical traditions, one of the goals of MOSZ is to initiate employee ownership (ESOP) by taking over minority shares of the State not managed with due diligence, as well as by updating and popularising the ESOP scheme.
- MOSZ lays a great emphasis on strengthening medium-level reconciliation. To this end it seeks to conclude strategic agreements between the competent ministries and the MOSZ branches.
- MOSZ continues to demand the changing of the tax and social security contribution systems.
- MOSZ considers the expansion of employment and the protection of jobs as priority issues, with special regard to vulnerable groups, specifically the young and pre-retirement age groups.
- MOSZ seeks cooperation with the Christian churches. In this context they take joint action against vulnerability and social decline in the world of work.
- In the difficult circumstances resulting from recent changes the trade unions are fighting for survival. MOSZ urges for even closer alliance within and between the trade unions and trade union confederations.
The National Federation of Workers’ Councils plays an active part in the work of international organisations. It is a member of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC, http://www.ituc-csi.org), the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC, http://www.etuc.org), EZA, the education and cooperation forum of European trade unions embracing Christian values (http://www.eza.org), participates in the employee side of advocacy of the ILO (http://www.ilo.org).
Our branches are active in European projects and represent MOSZ in the sectoral organisations the above, and numerous other, European and international forums.
ETUC was created in 1973. Today it has 83 national trade union members from 36 European countries in addition to 12 European sectoral trade union confederations, with a total of over 60 million members. ETUC also has observers from Macedonia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
All of the six Hungarian trade union confederations (MOSZ, Federation of Autonomous Trade Unions, Liga, Hungarian Federation of Trade Unions MSZOSZ, Trade Unions Collaboration Forum, and Trade Union Organisation of Professionals) are members of ETUC.
EUROCARDES is the European federation of medium-level managers, and FERPA, the European federation of retired workers’ and senior citizens’ unions work attached to ETUC. In addition, ETUC coordinates the cross-border cooperation of the 44 IRTUC (Interregional Trade Union Council).
Our branches are active in ETUC’s ETUI-REHS (European Trade Union Institute for Research, Education and Health and Safety (http://www.etui-rehs.org) in their specific field of expertise and interest:
- ETUI Education Department, the general educational and training body of ETUC. Its main task is to organise ETUC’s education and training programmes;
- ETUI Research Department conducting scientific research;
- ETUI Health and Safety Department, whose job is to oversee the transposition of the outputs of European legislation into national legislation.