Anti-Orban protesters ridicule Hungary′s ′slave law′ | News | DW | 22.12.2018
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Anti-Orban protesters ridicule Hungary's 'slave law'

"We can finally work eight days a week," read the invitation sent out by the satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party ahead of a Budapest march. Viktor Orban dismissed the protests over the new labor law as "hysterical shouting."

Thousands marched in Budapest on Friday against the new labor law and the government's move to set up a separate system of courts it would control. The satirical Two-Tailed Dog Party (MKKP) said the rally was in support of "government policies, Christmas and snowfall."

Protesters also mocked other recent moves by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's government, such as the ban on homelessness and the ouster of the Central European University backed by the US-Hungarian billionaire George Soros. The Hungarian regime often accuses Soros of devious anti-government plots.

"I want to give birth to a stadium," read one of the signs carried by protesters on Friday, referencing Orban's focus on raising the birth rate and building overpriced sports facilities.

Watch video 02:49

Hungary’s unpopular new overtime law meets with protests

'Soros, Soros, Soros, Soros, Soros'

The Hungarian public responded with anger after the government pushed through changes to the labor code last week, with the new law allowing employers to demand up to 400 hours of overtime and delay payment for up to three years. The displeasure over the so-called "slave law" has already prompted repeated protests.

The MKKP urged people to bring "gifts for the government" as well as "gas masks" and "layered underwear," alluding to thousands marching in freezing temperatures last Sunday before police used tear gas and smoke grenades to disperse the demo.

"We can finally work eight days a week. We no longer need to hassle with independent courts," the party said in their invitation posted on their Facebook page. "Homelessness has been eliminated. Irritating foreign schools will vanish. And Soros, Soros, Soros, Soros, Soros."

Read more: Hungary: Europe's champion of conspiracy theories

Protests in Hungary (picture-alliance/dpa/Z. Balogh)

Some 15,000 people protested the new law on December 16 with the backing of all opposition parties

The Friday rally is scheduled to be the last protest march ahead of the Christmas holidays, with organizers hoping to continue the demonstrations in early January.

'Silly rules'

Also on Friday, Orban dismissed the anger over the new labor law as "hysterical shouting." According to the prime minister, the ruling Fidesz party "simply wants to get rid of silly rules so that those who want to earn more can work more."

"We heard this same hysterical shouting when we threw the IMF out of Hungary, when we cut taxes or introduced the public works program, the opposition cried: 'Slave!'," Orban told the Hungarian public radio.

He also seemed to contradict the text of the law, which states that employees could delay payment for up to three years, by saying that employees would be paid for overtime at the end of every month.

Meanwhile, councils in Hungary's third-largest city of Szeged and the northern town of Salgotarjan pledged not to implement the new law. A Friday poll by Publicus said that over two-thirds of Hungarians thought protests were justified and that the new law would harm workers.

dj/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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