National protests due to overtime-related “slave law” shake Hungary National protests due to overtime-related “slave law” shake Hungary

National protests due to overtime-related “slave law” shake Hungary
10 Jan 2019

Hungarian opposition groups and trade unions have threatened strike action unless the nationalist government abolishes its “slave law”, which was passed last month to regulate overtime hours and payment.

According to the Irish Times, thousands of people took part in demonstrations in the capital Budapest on Saturday, with smaller marches occurring in other towns and cities, as a broad new protest movement launched what it describes as a “year of resistance” against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rule. The rallies first began last month following the introduction of the “slave law”, which enables employers to demand that employees work 400 hours of annual overtime and gives them three years to make a payment.

Union leaders have described the changes as exploitative and for the first time last weekend joined political and civil organisations in accusing Orban of dismantling Hungary’s democracy and rule of law. Protest leaders here are demanding that he abolish the “slave law”, guarantee the independence of the country’s beleaguered courts and public media, and allow Hungary to join the European Union’s prosecutor’s office, which will enable outside scrutiny of possible state corruption.

On Saturday, union leaders also said they planned to present the government with a list of their own requirements. These include not only an end to the “slave law”, which is perceived to favour big, foreign manufacturers such as German carmakers, but also demands for higher pay, better workers rights and an enhanced pension system.

If the government fails to listen – and it currently shows no sign of backing down - a national demonstration, which will include workers blocking roads and bridges, will take place on 19 January, followed by possible strike action in future, union leaders said.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC

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Hungarian opposition groups and trade unions have threatened strike action unless the nationalist government abolishes its “slave law”, which was passed last month to regulate overtime hours and payment.

According to the Irish Times, thousands of people took part in demonstrations in the capital Budapest on Saturday, with smaller marches occurring in other towns and cities, as a broad new protest movement launched what it describes as a “year of resistance” against Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s rule. The rallies first began last month following the introduction of the “slave law”, which enables employers to demand that employees work 400 hours of annual overtime and gives them three years to make a payment.

Union leaders have described the changes as exploitative and for the first time last weekend joined political and civil organisations in accusing Orban of dismantling Hungary’s democracy and rule of law. Protest leaders here are demanding that he abolish the “slave law”, guarantee the independence of the country’s beleaguered courts and public media, and allow Hungary to join the European Union’s prosecutor’s office, which will enable outside scrutiny of possible state corruption.

On Saturday, union leaders also said they planned to present the government with a list of their own requirements. These include not only an end to the “slave law”, which is perceived to favour big, foreign manufacturers such as German carmakers, but also demands for higher pay, better workers rights and an enhanced pension system.

If the government fails to listen – and it currently shows no sign of backing down - a national demonstration, which will include workers blocking roads and bridges, will take place on 19 January, followed by possible strike action in future, union leaders said.

Emma Woollacott

Emma Woollacott is a freelance business journalist. Her work has appeared in a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, the Times, Forbes and the BBC

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Knowing your labour laws in Hungary

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