650 ELTE staff members demand a tripling of basic salaries in open letter

January 18. 2023. – 02:49 PM


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Last November, 650 staff from several faculties of one of Hungary's biggest universities, Eötvös Lóránd University (ELTE) appealed in vain to the university's administration and the university's governing body to settle the wages of public employees in higher education. They received no response to this day and therefore decided to go public.

In the open letter, they state that the signatories of the declaration "consider the current wages, not only for lecturers but also for the administrative staff, to be unacceptable and expect the university's owner, the Hungarian state, and the university's management to take concrete steps to resolve the serious situation without delay".

According to them, the basic salary of ELTE professors is extremely low by European, Central European and even Hungarian standards and that it has become a threat to the very functioning of the institution.

They write that "the current salaries do not ensure the livelihoods of lecturers and administrative staff, do not provide the minimum necessary conditions for academic research and high-quality teaching and support activities and make it increasingly difficult to ensure the recruitment of new staff. In addition, there is no automatic mechanism built into the university pay scales for either the teaching or administrative staff, which would allow the wages to keep pace with the official inflation rate".

"Current wage levels are so low that an immediate tripling of basic wages is needed" they write.

They say this would be impossible to achieve through the reallocation of resources within the university and would thus require increased funding from the central budget. "We also consider it necessary for Parliament to legislate the ratio of the basic salaries thus created to be synced with the current guaranteed minimum wage," they add.

The declaration also details the current salaries of adjunct professors and teaching assistants at the university:

  • 10 years ago, the basic salary of an assistant professor according to the wage scale (currently 277 200 HUF gross) was around the average salary in the national economy, by now it has fallen to below 60 % of it.
  • Under the current pay scale, the basic salary of an assistant lecturer (221 800 HUF gross) is lower than the new minimum wage (232 000 HUF gross).
  • The new guaranteed minimum wage (296 000 HUF gross) is even higher than the basic salary for assistant professors.
  • In recent years, the centrally imposed 15+15% pay increase on top of these amounts has only been implemented in the form of an "employer's discretionary pay", and the average assistant lecturer's salary is still below 60% of the average salary.

They add that they went public because they received no substantive response to their letter of November from either the state as the owner or the university administration.

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