A controversial labor bill dubbed the ‘slave law’ has sparked an angry public response in Hungary. Protesters have clashed with police outside the parliament as thousands staged a massive rally in Budapest.
Thousands of people marched through the Hungarian capital on Wednesday, in an attempt to discourage lawmakers from approving a controversial amendment to the labor law, backed by Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party.
Despite popular opposition, the bill was still adopted later the same day, prompting an angry crowd to gather outside of the parliament building in the evening. The protesters were chanting “traitors!” Some of them were also waving the EU flags.
Demonstrators attempted to push their way to the parliament’s entrance at some point, facing off with police officers in the riot gear, who blocked the gates, footage taken by RT’s Ruptly shows. Although the video showed that the situation was quite tense and many people caught in the jam could be heard screaming, there were no reports of any injuries.
Beating drums and waving national flags, the protesters also blocked the Margaret Bridge over the Danube River, situated not far from the parliament.
Critics argue that the new law violated their rights and turned them into the “slaves” of corporations. The legislation raises workers’ allowable overtime from 250 to 400 hours-a-year and relaxes other labor rules in a bid to offset Hungary’s growing labor shortage. It also allows employers to agree on overtime arrangements directly with workers, outside collective bargaining agreements and not having to include unions in negotiations.
The government-backed proposal was approved 130-52 on Wednesday and was actively supported by Fidesz, which enjoys a two-thirds majority in the parliament. “We have to remove bureaucratic rules so that those who want to work and earn more can do so,” Orban said, in defense of the bill.
MUST WATCH: As the National Assembly of Hungary descends into chaos, opposition MP Bence Tordai rolls up on PM Orban and trolls him to his face. This is unprecedented. Orban is visibly uncomfortable. He was not counting on this. #Hungarypic.twitter.com/C8XCKN9A6G
— Benjamin Novak (@b_novak) December 12, 2018
The opposition parties, however, were critical of the reform and even attempted to stop the vote. Their MPs blew whistles and sirens during most of the voting process, and blocked access to the speaker’s pulpit for some time. They also succeeded in briefly delaying the voting by singing the national anthem.
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