In Hungary, in order to counter the growing unemployment rate that followed the economic crisis of 2008, many possible solutions were proposed, one of which was the Workfare Program for those who were unable to enter the labour market. The Workfare Program was started by the Bajnai government in 2009, in which 45 458 people were employed. At the time, the government spent 59 billion HUF on the Workfare System and the people employed in it received the minimum wage. From 2011 the Orbán government allocated more for workfare and increased the number of people involved in the program. At the same time, the government introduced a new law about workfare in 2011, which cut the wages of people employed in the Workfare System (70% of the minimum wage) and violated their workers’ rights (CVI law of 2011).
By 2014, the amount allocated for the Workfare System has reached 231 billion HUF and 315 000 people involved in the program. The government, during the drafting of the 2015 budget and the modification of the benefit system, has expressed its commitment to the further expansion of the Workfare System as their primary tool to counter poverty and unemployment.
The Hungarian Anti-Poverty Network (and its operator, the Hungarian Anti-Poverty Foundation), realising the consequences of these government policies in 2011, aims to start projects and activities which can recognise and show the effects of the Workfare System. Hence, HAPN, through a questionnaire and interview-based research, made a study (A közfoglalkoztatási csapda – The Workfare Trap) and, has been using the methods of community organising since 2012 to organise a workfare advocacy group in Budapest. The organiser of the group from September 2012 until September 2014 was Bálint Vojtonovszki, and thanks to him and the work of many other volunteers, an advocacy group called, the Workfare Movement for the Future was formed in 2012. From September 2014, Mónika Bálint took over the position of community organiser in the group.
Our goal is to raise awareness of the limits and problems of the Hungarian Workfare System, and of the economical, labour and social discrimination of people working in it, including the violation of their rights. We aim to reach these goals by gathering the experiences of people employed in the Workfare System and through advocacy and empowerment. We are fighting against mistreatment by solving individual cases, as well as by informing the general public and the decision-makers about them. Through proposals, information gathering, petitions, open letters, media and public events, we want to influence the shaping and modification of the Workfare System, we also wish to create alternative solutions that reflect the needs of people employed in the Workfare System more accurately. Our goals also include the shaping of the public opinion of the people employed in the Workfare System.
Our Strategic Goals
Salary: Wages should reach the minimum wage again!
Contracts: The contracts should be long-term! There should be no inhuman conditions to exclude people! The employees should have holiday entitlement! The employees should only be given work that is really included in the contract!
Treatment: There should be no humiliating treatment! The government should communicate appropriately about the unemployed!
Way out: There should be a way out of the Workfare System through trainings and job creation.
The Workfare Trap (see Download documents)
Partner organisations and external references
Blog: Workfare Movement for the Future