Madam Chair, distinguished delegates,
First of all, I would like to congratulate you on your election.
Hungarian workers support the highly important goal defined in the report of the Director General, which states that the next target of the ILO is the global eradication of poverty in line with the 2030 Agenda of the UN.
I would like to highlight two parts of the DG report which deal with issues also highly important for Hungarian workers: working poverty and the crucial role of tripartite dialogue in combating it.
According to statistical data of 2014, 16.6 percent of the Hungarian population lives in income poverty which is the same rate as the EU average. However, the income level of 25 percent of this group is below the official minimum subsistence level. The risk of poverty is four times higher among the unemployed than in the case of those in employment. Income below subsistence level mainly affects young workers, 33.5 percent of whom earn below the poverty line. Health care and social workers in the public sector and teachers also belong to this group. This is the reason of the increasing migration of young people and health care workers especially to Western Europe where they can earn a decent living. The mass emigration of young people abroad also means that social security contributions decrease, which makes the payment of pensions even more difficult, which will further increase poverty.
Thus, working poverty should be eliminated and decent wages should be paid to workers. One of the most important objectives of Hungarian trade unions is to end the present anomaly when the net value of the minimum wage falls below the minimum subsistence income. Although the 30 percent gap in 2012 has decreased to 18 percent by now, this difference is still unacceptable. We also deem the use of the ILO instruments important in the elimination of poverty. Under the Hungarian Labour Code only the labour-market-requirements should be taken into consideration when setting the minimum wage. The cost of living of the workers is not taken into account. This is why Hungarian trade unions have initiated that Hungary should ratify the ILO Convention No. 131 on Minimum Wage Fixing. There is NO decent work without decent wages. Decent wage is the integral part of the human dignity of workers.
When speaking about ending poverty, we should not forget about the new challenges facing workers in the future: robotization and digital economy. The former may lead to the loss of many jobs and the latter may result in the mass creation of underpaid jobs for digital slaves that will further increase working poverty. Thus, our common and urgent task is to prepare and train workers for these digital changes and to regulate this new working form, so that workers’ rights and incomes should not be cut.
These future challenges make it even more important to involve social partners in economic-political and macro-level decision-making. The best instrument for this is the regular operation of national tripartite social dialogue which has basically stopped functioning after the dissolution of the National Reconciliation Council in 2011. Hungarian workers agree with the statement of the report of the Director General: tripartite dialogue should have a crucial role in the development of the national strategy for combating poverty. The cooperation of the actors of the economy – the employers, the workers and the government – is an indispensible condition of the efficient and socially just operation of the economy, of good governance and the elimination of poverty on the national and global level.
Thank you for your attention.