Hungary's prime minister, conservative nationalist Viktor Orbán, defended today the controversial labor law that has generated a series of citizen protests, which he defined as "hysterical shouting."
"No one can be forced to work overtime, who says something different, lies," Orbán said today in his weekly interview with the public radio station "Kossuth."
The law, defined by critics as a "law of slavery", increases the number of extra hours allowed per year from 250 to 400.
In this way, certain employees could go to work six days a week, while employers will have the possibility of disbursing these payments in a period of 36 months, that is, three years, instead of a year as before.
According to critics, workers who refuse to accept overtime work would be "marked" and would risk dismissal, even though the law determines that additional work must always be "voluntary."
In Hungary there is a notable shortage of labor, according to Orbán, who added that "the silly rules have been eliminated, so that those who want to work more can do so".
This lack of work is due to the emigration of hundreds of thousands of Hungarians, many of them highly qualified, while the Government maintains a tough policy against immigration.
In the last week and a half Budapest and other cities were the scene of protests against the law, which in some cases ended in clashes between the demonstrators and the police who resorted to tear gas.
"They are hysterical shouts," the prime minister said today about protests by opposition parties, though he added that he understands the protesters.
"I know the feeling when you feel that you are right, but nobody listens to you," Orbán said and stressed that "a clear distinction must be made from vandalism."
On the other hand, Orbán once again attacked his main ideological rival, the Hungarian-born American tycoon George Soros, by assuring him that he is behind the protests.
"Deep down, there are international organizations that move in. The most aggressive ones are paid by Soros," said Orbán, for whom the tycoon is a political enemy for defending the ideas of open societies.
The Hungarian president and ally of Orbán, János Áder, signed on Thursday the law, which will come into force on January 1 next.
Several organizations have called a protest for tonight in Budapest under the slogan "You should be ashamed, János".