Hungarian workers protest ′slave law′ overtime rules | News | DW | 08.12.2018
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages

News

Hungarian workers protest 'slave law' overtime rules

Hungarians have taken to the streets to protest against labor law changes that would allow employers to demand up to 400 hours overtime per year. The government says it needs greater worker flexibility.

Thousands of workers demonstrated in Budapest on Saturday, objecting to a change in the labor code proposed by Prime Minister Victor Orban's right-wing Fidesz party.

A draft bill proposed by Fidesz would see a rise in the amount of overtime that employers can demand from workers, along with an extended time period for settling compensation.

Union leaders claim that the so-called "slave law" proposals underline the intention of Orban's government to increase corporate profits at the expense of workers.

Several thousand people protested in front of the Hungarian parliament building to show their opposition.

"In Hungary, we carry the largest burden on our back and, in return, we get the lowest wage in Europe," Laszlo Kordas, president of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation, told protesters.

Low wages as leverage?

The new rules mean workers could accrue up to 400 hours of overtime instead of the current 250-hour maximum. Employers would also have three years to compensate employees with either payment or time off work, instead of the current one year.

Read more: How oligarchs captured Central Europe's media

Although employers would need workers to agree to the additional hours, unions say employers would use low wages to pressure employees into accepting. Critics also object to a proposal that overtime arrangements should be agreed with individual workers, bypassing collective bargaining arrangements.

"This process is only about the suppression of employee interests and the prioritization of the interests of employers and the powers that be," said Jozsef Szilagyi, co-chair of the Democratic League of Independent Trade Unions.

Read more: Hungary's university ban on gender studies heats up culture war

The government says greater labor flexibility is needed to satisfy investors — such as German car companies whose factories have helped drive economic growth.

Critics have speculated that German auto giants have lobbied Budapest to loosen overtime restrictions. However, the German-Hungarian Chamber of Industry and Commerce has denied that German firms have called for the changes.

Watch video 04:19
Now live
04:19 mins.

Hungary Bans Homelessness

rc/aw (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

Each evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.

DW recommends

WWW links

Audios and videos on the topic

Advertisement