Double transport strike hits Hungary

Business Materials 7 April 2008 12:01 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Hungarian commuters were facing travel misery Monday morning as both railway workers and employees of Budapest's public transport network walked out on separate strikes.

The vast majority of metros, trams, buses and trolley buses in the capital city were not running, and a significant number of train services were also cancelled.

Roads approaching the city were choked with cars as people attempted to make it into the office regardless.

Unions representing Budapest Transport Company (BKV) workers called the strike after the state-owned company said it would cut many services in an attempt to save money.

BKV is around 80 billion forints (489.4 million dollars) in debt.

The strike was due to end at 1 p.m. (1100 GMT).

The other strike - of 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 25 per cent 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.

The VDSZSZ is striking for a wage increase of 10 per cent and a bonus payment of 250,000 forints, which the union says its members are due after Hungarian State Railways (MAV) sold off its cargo division.