Hungary: Protests Continue, Unions call for National Strike

More than 10,000 people gathered outside parliament to protest the new law that allows employers to force people to work up to 400 hours of overtime a year.

Union leaders in Hungary called for protests and a national strike on Jan. 19 to oppose labor law changes that have come to be known as the “slave law.” The unions are demanding the repeal of the “slave law,” higher wages, increased workers’ rights and a more flexible retirement system. If the government refuses to negotiate, the unions will strike.

The protests have become a platform for generalized anger at Mr. Orban, and his Fidesz party. Criticism has expanded to cover laws allowing the government to establish new administrative courts that will oversee electoral law, protests and corruption issues.

More than 80% of Hungarians oppose the new labor law. The country’s trade unions had been silent in the face of increasing authoritarianism in the country, crackdowns on media and academia, but have now joined the protests.

Government spokesman Istvan Hollik claimed that billionaire George Soros is funding the protests, but did not address any of the protesters’ grievances.

Orban won a third four-year term in April with a campaign based almost exclusively on his fervent anti-immigration stance.

Civic groups, students, trade unions, and opposition parties all took part in the rally, which began with a march from Heroes Square to parliament. Protests have been ongoing and growing since last year.



Photo: “Rabszolgatörvény elleni tüntetés 2018.12.16.” by Atlatszo Foto is licensed under CC BY 2.0