Unexpected attack on trade union rights in the Hungarian armed forces!

The Hungarian military trade union Honvédszakszervezet (HOSZ) was founded in 1991 and joined EUROMIL already in 1992. Very often EUROMIL referred to HOSZ as a good example since the country, by Constitution, grants these basic rights to its military personnel.

On Tuesday, 21 November 2023, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Justice submitted a constitutional amendment proposal, which states: “A trade union may not form and operate in connection with the legal status of a professional member of the Hungarian Armed Forces“. At the same time, the amendment also describes that other interest-representative organizations (professional association) in connection with the legal status of a professional member of the Hungarian Armed Forces may be formed and can operate according to specific rules determined by the Government.

Immediately on 22 November, the day after this decision, the Hungarian Ministry of Defence announced the new situation in public, however, without consultation with the concerned trade union. The Ministry referred to the military oath and stated that “Hungarian National Guard is therefore not an employee in uniform, but a soldier ready to defend Hungary’s sovereignty even at the cost of his life. Along with their responsibility comes the fact that their legal status is markedly different from most legal relationships.”

HOSZ started immediately looking for possible solutions to deal with the situation. Not willing to just accept the situation and stop its activities, they decided that the representation of their members’ interests should be maintained. However, HOSZ is still waiting for a meeting to receive more details on these specific rules  decided by the Government.

EUROMIL joins the statement of the Hungarian LIGA Trade Unions and the National Federation of Workers’ Councils. It is unacceptable that a group of uniformed workers that had constitutional trade union rights for decades have suddenly been denied of this fundamental right. Even more, the right of association and collective bargaining (also for the military) is a right foreseen in many international treaties signed and ratified by Hungary. For example, Art 5 and 6 of the European social charter (ratified by Hungary in 2009) grants this right and does not exclude soldiers. The European Committee on Social Rights was clear on this in the cases CGIL v Italy and EUROMIL v Ireland: trade union rights and collective bargaining cannot be denied to military personnel. Also the European Court on Human Rights was clear on this in the cases Adefdromil and Matelly v France.

EUROMIL will follow this situation with attention and in agreement with its Hungarian partners, ready to act and react!

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