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10,000 People Protest in Budapest Against Government 'Slavery Law'

  • 10,000 People Protest in Budapest Against Government 'Slave Law'

    10,000 People Protest in Budapest Against Government 'Slave Law' | Photo: Reuters

Published 17 December 2018

Thousands of Hungarians take to the streets to protest a new labor law which allows employers to request between 250-400 overtime hours from workers annually. 

On Sunday, close to 10,000 people took to the streets of Budapest to protest the Hungarian government’s new labor law as well as the right-wing orientation of president Viktor Orban’s administration.

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“Discontent is growing” and “They have passed two laws this week which...won’t serve Hungarian people’s interest,” Andi, a student who prefers not to reveal her full name, said referring to her motivations to attend the protest.

For their part, workers feel they are being ignored, “We must raise our voice [to government] and give an answer,” Tamas Szekely, deputy head of the Hungarian Trade Union’s Association said.

The new labor law is the main concern for many Hungarians. The legislation gives employers the right to ask employees to work up an additional 400 hours of overtime per year, the reason for which it has been labeled the ‘slave law.’

On Thursday, the Hungarian parliament passed a bill which stipulates that employers can “demand” workers to labor between 250 to 400 hours of overtime per year but that is not the end of it, as employers are allowed to delay payment by a maximum of three years, according to Deutsche Welle.

Orban’s reaction to the protest was to blame his enemy George Soros for the disturbances, “[it has become] increasingly obvious that criminals have been part of the street riots organized by the Soros-network,” according to the Hungarian Civic Alliance, Fidesz, the right-wing party to which Orban belongs.

Orban rose to power in 2010 and he was re-elected in April this year. The leader’s platform consisted in staunch nationalism an rejection of immigrants coming into the country.

Accusations against the leader range from rigging the electoral system in his favor to enacting unpopular labor laws.

The protests currently taking place in Budapest are said to be the most violent in the country over the last ten years. Reports say dozens have been arrested and several police officers have been injured. This is the second protest held during this month over the labor law. 

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