8 hours of work, 8 hours of rest and 8 hours of free time - so went the theoretical ideal of communist living. Unsurprisingly, the reality was a little different.
The principle behind work in communist Hungary was that the state would supply a job for every citizen, and every citizen had to work. The theory was simple - deceptively so.
Everyone had an 'employment book' which had in it the name and address of every job you had ever had. To avoid work was a criminal offence - such people were regarded as a danger to society. The police were entitled to examine your ID at any time and could see where and whether you were registered as working. Not having a current place of work listed constituted a civil offence; even prostitutes made sure they had an official job stamped in their IDs.
Most people earned around 3,000 forints a month. This was always paid on the 2nd of the month, in cash. Since this was regarded as a token amount, some people spent little time at their places of work.
With poor telephone connections, every aspect of life had to be arranged personally. Thus, people left their jobs for long periods of the working day to do everything from going to ministries and offices to visiting the hairdresser's.
Those with a skill or profession that allowed them to work privately, did what was called their 'second job' to supplement their state salaries. Many did some of this work during their official working hours. Builders were notorious for 'redirecting' building materials supplied by the state for council flats, to their private jobs. Though there was a good amount of pride associated with 'intellectual' (i.e. non-manual) work which resulted in high standards, some people's attitude to their jobs was casual and they devoted their energies to finding more lucrative, privately-paid work.
Many jobs were advertised like this outside the actual place of work. The jobs here (changing cabin assistant; secretary, cleaner, etc.) were listed outside the Császár baths on Frankel Leo utca.
Almost all jobs of every kind were secured by virtue of knowing the right person, what the Hungarians called protekció.
This job advertisement for various workers in the construction of schools and public buildings, promises support to young employees as well as the possibility of holidays at Lake Balaton.
This is the all-important canteen or menza where all workers could have their midday meal.
For offices or workplaces without a canteen, there were many self-service restaurants where similar food could be had at a nominal price.
Many people from outside the capital worked in Budapest from Monday to Friday, commuting weekly from their homes. They were accommodated in one of the many workers' hostels that existed for this purpose.
This is the inside of a glass factory - some of whose employees I taught - in the town of Salgótarján.
Note that not one person is wearing any form of protective clothing either above or below (in the Lehel fridge-making factory).
Accidents were not uncommon.
A job with the police was definitely seen as joining 'the other side' but came with perks: higher pay and ease of getting a flat. In addition, as with every office job, access to a telephone meant you could arrange your life without having to use public phones or go to friends or neighbours.
A cook in the menza.
Inside a workers' hostel.
These were either closed or converted into hotels after 1989 leaving many without work since they had no affordable accommodation in Budapest.
Artists, like this one in Szentendre, were given a wage in order to enable them to paint. The same applied to musicians and others working in artistic fields.
Agriculture was vital to the economy, particularly in Hungary's bid to be as self-sufficient as possible.
Land had been collectivised - small farms combined into huge co-operatives - which employed vast numbers of people in the countryside.
Typical menza food: soup, meat with pasta and a gherkin.
This is a 1988 ticket for a meal at a self-service restaurant in Budapest. This was a perk given to employees at certain workplaces, or you could pay in for a week at a time yourself.