The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at a controversial labor bill that has been dubbed the ‘slave law’ and has ignited an angry public response in Hungary.
Even though the bill faced formidable opposition, it was adopted into law, prompting an angry crowd to gather outside of the parliament building after the vote. Protesters were chanting “traitors!” Some of them were also waving the EU flags.
Critics argue that the new law violated their rights and turned them into the “slaves” of corporations. The legislation raises workers’ allowable overtime from 250 to 400 hours-a-year and relaxes other labor rules in a bid to offset Hungary’s growing labor shortage. It also allows employers to agree on overtime arrangements directly with workers, outside collective bargaining agreements and not having to include unions in negotiations.
The government-backed proposal was approved 130-52 on Wednesday and was actively supported by Fidesz, which enjoys a two-thirds majority in the parliament. “We have to remove bureaucratic rules so that those who want to work and earn more can do so,” Orban said, in defense of the bill.
According to Hungary Today, the aim of demonstrations staged over the past days has been to “topple the regime”, the leader of the leftist opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) said on Monday.
“The country has had enough of the Orban government’s despotism and violation of laws over the past eight years,” Ferenc Gyurcsány said in Budapest.
The opposition parties have joined forces and they must not stop their act of resistance, he said, calling for ousting the government and electing a new parliament “in fair elections” under democratic rules.
Anti-government demonstrations started on Wednesday last week, the day parliament passed legislation on labour code rule changes and a new system of administrative courts.
Via Global News…
Around 2,000 Hungarians protested late on Wednesday outside parliament against new legislation allowing employers to ask staff to work up to 400 hours per year of overtime, a reform its critics have dubbed the “slave law”.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban‘s ruling Fidesz party pushed the law through the legislature earlier in the day, using its big majority as opposition parties sought to block the vote.
Protesters shouting “Traitors, traitors” and “Orban go to hell” faced off against hundreds of police who stood on the steps of the parliament building.
A Reuters photographer said the crowd then moved towards a side gate, where some threw objects at police, who responded with pepper spray.
The changes to the labour code had already sparked a street protest at the weekend.
Orban has ruffled feathers in Europe and built a system his critics see as autocratic, affecting businesses, academia, the courts and the media, But he has rarely angered different domestic voter groups at the same time.
After police arrested dozens of demonstrators who tried to storm the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest earlier this week, the country’s ruling Fidesz Party has blamed socialist lawmakers and liberal billionaire George Soros – whose “Open Society Foundation” was recently driven out of the country by a series of laws penalizing foreign interlopers in Hungarian politics – for stoking civil unrest in response to reforms to labor laws and the country’s judiciary that were recently passed by parliament.
Since the laws passed Parliament on Tuesday despite opposition lawmakers’ attempts to stymie the vote with harassment tactics (one lawmaker even blocked the speaker’s podium in an attempt to stop the vote), police in Budapest have struggled to repel large crowds of demonstrators. Some of the protesters have even put on masks despite organizers of the demonstration asking participants not to cover their face.
Fidesz said in a statement that the opposition “made clowns of themselves” by “colluding” with Soros in a desperate attempt to stop the vote.
“The opposition, in a hopeless position, made clowns of themselves in Parliament, acting aggressively and colluding with the Soros organizations that organized violent street protests,” Fidesz said in a statement. “The point of the labor code amendment is to ensure that those who want to work and earn more don’t face bureaucratic obstacles.”
The more controversial of the two laws passed has been nicknamed the “Slave Law” by those who oppose it. It allows employers to circumvent unions and make deals with employees to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year. Another law created a new federal court to handle cases related to business and employment.
Judges on that court will be selected by the country’s Justice Minister, which has elicited criticism that Fidesz is trying to subvert the country’s justice system to cement its “authoritarian” rule. However, Fidesz remains incredibly popular in Hungary, and won an overwhelming parliamentary victory in elections earlier this year.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.