May 18, 2021

Thousands of Hungarians protest against Orbán's controversial labor reform

Thousands of Hungarians protest against Orbán's controversial labor reform



Thousands of people gathered today in Budapest in a new protest against the labor reform of the prime minister, the nationalist Viktor Orbán, which has been baptized as a "law of slavery".

"We will not stop!" was the motto of the demonstration, convened by unions, student organizations and opposition parties in reference to the protests that began in mid-December, after the parliamentary majority of Orbán's party, Fidesz, approved the controversial law.

This legislation increases from 250 to 400 the number of overtime hours per year, which means that for some employees they work six days a week and, in addition, it allows companies to postpone the payment of that extra working time for up to 36 months.

Although overtime is voluntary according to the law, unions and other critics point out that workers who refuse to accept work will be "marked" and run the risk of dismissal.

The 6,000 participants, according to estimates from Hungarian media, announced that 2019 will be "the year of resistance" and promised more demonstrations and other forms of protests, such as strikes and roadblocks.

In today's march the protagonists were the unions, that before the demonstration spread an "ultimatum" to the Government and announced that if their requests are not met, they will call strikes starting in February.

The four demands of the unions are a new labor standard and the abolition of the "law of slavery", the increase of wages, the regulation of the right to strike and a reform of the pension system.

It is expected that at night groups of protesters will partially block the Margarita bridge, as well as Oktogon Square, in the center of the city.

Hungary suffers from a lack of labor, since unemployment is 3.6 percent, while in recent years the emigration of qualified young people has accelerated.

Despite the pressing lack of workers in some sectors, the Government applies some of the most restrictive policies against immigration from the European Union (EU).

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