SZFE students, strike committee reject new leadership’s offer

The new deputy rector and the chancellor of Budapest's University of Theatre and Film Arts (SZFE) said on Wednesday that the students and the strike committee of the university have rejected the leadership's recent conciliatory gestures in connection with the current standoff.

The deadline for accepting the new management’s offer was set for midnight on Wednesday, Emil Novak and Gabor Szarka said in a statement.

They said that none of their offers, including a phased 10-15 percent pay rise for full-time employees and an agreement to maintain their current working schedule, could be implemented as long as the strike and standoff continued.

Novak and Szarka appealed to students and the strike committee to “reconsider” and accept their offer. “It’s still not too late to start cooperating,” they said.

The deputy rector and the chancellor noted that in a written statement sent to the chancellor one-third of SZFE’s employees said they rejected cooperation with organisers of the university’s blockade, and indicated their willingness to work with Szarka.

The students on Monday vowed to maintain their blockade of university premises, insisting the new leadership was “illegitimate” and its overtures were “an ultimatum” rather than conciliatory. They said they would continue to exercise their democratic right to protest and maintain their blockade.

SZFE’s previous senate and leadership announced their resignation on Aug. 31, saying the foundation that took over the university on Sept. 1 under a government decree had deprived them of “all essential powers”. The students cordoned off the university’s main building and employees went on strike.

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