Hungarian transport workers strike over service cuts

Hungarian transport workers strike over service cutsBudapest - Hungary's capital was brought to a virtual standstill on Monday as transport workers walked out over planned cuts to services that are expected to lead to job losses.

Unions representing workers from the debt-stricken Budapest Transport Company (BKV) called the strike after the state-owned company said it would cut around ten per cent of its services in an attempt to save money.

BKV is around 80 billion forints (489.4 million dollars) in debt and continues to run at a loss.

Talks between BKV and unions, which broke down last Friday, recommenced after the strike ended at 1 pm (1100 GMT).

Roads approaching the city were choked with cars during rush hour as people had to find an alternative to Budapest's sprawling public transport system.

Metros, trams and buses in the capital city did not run, and even after services were restored, BKV said it would take much of the day for the situation to normalize.

The travel problems were worsened by a simultaneous railway workers strike.

The other strike - by workers from the Railway Workers' Free Trade Union (VDSZSZ) - was part of a long-running wage dispute.

Workers from the VDSZSZ have been walking out regularly over the last few months.

The VDSZSZ represents roughly one quarter of Hungarian State Railways' (MAV) workforce of 36,000, but with many of its members in key jobs, it is capable of crippling the rail network.

On Monday, however, it appeared the on-off strike was losing momentum. MAV said that around 70 per cent of its services were running and the strike only lasted until 10 am.

The VDSZSZ is striking for a wage increase of 10 per cent, well above the 6.9 per cent MAV is offering.

It also wants a one-off bonus payment of 250,000 forints, which the union says its members are due after MAV sold off its cargo division. (dpa)

Political Reviews: