Friday, 30 September 2016

A 21st-CENTURY DILEMMA

Tales of two countries
Hungary and UK

Earlier this afternoon...

I went into the centre of Birmingham.

Outside Birmingham's Snow Hill railway station there is a small French bakers' shop selling bread and cakes:


I looked in the window, and was tempted.

As is usual now in the English high street the young woman serving was obviously from somewhere in Central Europe, often nowadays Lithuania. There was something about her manner, however, so I asked he where she was from.

She came from Baja in southern Hungary and had been living and working in England for a couple of years.

The cake promised to be nice too...

...later

While I was eating my cake I switched on the computer and read these two little vignettes from yesterday's Wall Street Journal
TIHÁNY, Hungary—At a tavern in this lakeside resort town, the waiter scurrying from table to table could use some help.
Most of his colleagues have gone abroad to seek better pay, leaving Ferenc Punk’s family-run business heavily understaffed.
Mr. Punk could have tapped a vast pool of potential workers: scores of migrants, mainly from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, have travelled through the Central European country over the past two years, and thousands more are waiting at its southern border. Instead, the 67-year-old restaurant owner plans to make his dining room smaller. He won’t recruit migrants, especially if they are Muslims.
'I wouldn’t know what to do with them,' Mr. Punk said, 'I’m not against them but they are coming from a totally different culture.'
Mr. Punk’s tavern is a microcosm of the wider forces shaping Hungary...
Students, who were mandated to provide cheap labor at apple-picking camps during the communist era, are no longer coming to the fields. Romanians and ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries traditionally filled many jobs in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors here, but now leapfrog Hungary to move farther west.
Students, who were mandated to provide cheap labor at apple-picking camps during the communist era, are no longer coming to the fields. Romanians and ethnic Hungarians in neighboring countries traditionally filled many jobs in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors here, but now leapfrog Hungary to move farther west.
Hungary’s main association of entrepreneurs and employers, Mgyosz, has warned that the dearth of applicants in many sectors was endangering economic growth, which is expected to reach 2% this year. The association sides with government policy, though, saying that only migrant workers who 'are skilled and could culturally fit in are needed.
http://www.wsj.com/articles/hungary-referendum-tests-eus-migrant-policy-1475199853
* * *

I always used to think of Hungary as a land that had once done rather well out of Ausgleich (compromise).

Myself, I hope that the UK will continue to maintain its retail sector and expand the quality and choice that it offers. I hope too that it will continue to have its crops harvested, to staff its health service – and employ Hungarian conductors.

As for Hungary itself, I do hope that Mr Orban does not take the next logical step in his politics of economic, cultural and political autarky, which could surely be to use his spanking new fences and border guards not just to keep other people out but also to keep Hungarian people in.

That really is where I came in, in 1984 (a good symbolic year to cite!)

No comments:

Post a Comment