Thursday 16 July 2009

Romanians fight for jobs in Hungary

Mounting recession in Hungary is eating away at jobs in the country's extensive black and grey economy, and illegal Romanian workers are getting squeezed.

Illegal builders gather in Budapest's Moscow Square looking for a day's work.

Most of them are from Romania.

Until last year they enjoyed regular work.

But the recession has crippled Hungary's construction industry.

Workers in the unregulated, so-called 'grey economy', are becoming increasingly desperate.

Sandor Macsek is one of those forced to scrap for employment - quite literally.


"There are often fights. People get into brawls over who gets to work."

The number of registered unemployed has risen to more than 10 per cent of Hungary's population.

But life for the hundreds of thousands of illegal workers is even tougher, with no state benefits on offer.

Bela Varga is another struggling Romanian.


"I've never seen anything like this. Last year was better, we could usually find some work, but now we find nothing at all. I came with my family but I don't know what the future will bring. I guess the end will not be happy."

Unregistered workers face a double whammy.

Those lucky enough to find employment are increasingly being exposed in raids by the authorities.

With so many Hungarians jobless, the government is desperate to clamp down on illegal employment.

Prospects for job seekers show little sign of improvement.

The global economic crisis led to Hungary receiving an IMF bailout last October.

The cash injection helped the country narrowly avoid economic meltdown.

But without a sustained world economic improvement life is likely to stay bleak for Hungary's illegal workers.

Jim Drury, Reuters

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