Dwangarbeid met een nationalistisch tintje in Hongarije

Under a program instituted by the right-wing government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, the unemployed must take jobs in “communal work programs” to get more than the bare minimum in public assistance. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians have been given work in the program. (…) “There are between 300,000 and 500,000 people who are able to work, but their socialization to work is very weak”, said Lajos Kosa, the executive vice president of Mr. Orban’s governing Fidesz party. “They need to be led back to the world of employment, but they are lacking fundamental skills.” Those fundamental skills include showing up for work on time or finishing an assigned task, he said. (…) There is the struggling economy, the endemic unemployment that the government combats with public works projects, and the desire to assimilate poor villagers into a life of working for a paycheck. But not least, there is also the yearning for a Hungarian identity in a country where many residents feel it is under threat from immigrants, emigration and a creeping, Pan-European lifestyle that softens the edges of their national identity. Mr. Orban has made this nationalistic yearning the cornerstone of his appeal. (…) To receive more than the bare minimum of public assistance, about $90 a month, residents must take one of these communal jobs. If they do, they can make anywhere from $180 to $285 per month, depending on the skill level of their job and the number of children they have at home. (…) Critics sometimes compare the system to a form of forced labor. “Public work is not real work,” scoffed Janos Orsos, who volunteers with a religious group to work with Roma. “Public salary is not real salary.”

Rick Lyman in Work-for-Welfare Gains a Foothold in Hungary (NYtimes.com)