Civil organisations and opposition parties held a demonstration against a recent law on extending voluntary overtime in Budapest on Sunday. The amendments to the labour code approved on Wednesday raise the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 hours to 400 hours and extend the period employers may account overtime for the purpose of calculating wages and rest days from twelve months to three years.
Demonstrators marched from Heroes Square along Andrássy Boulevard, Teréz Boulevard and Bajcsy-Zsilinszky Street to Kossuth Square.
Addressing protesters, Tamás Székely, deputy head of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation, said the government does not protect workers, adding that the unions would organise strikes and fight against this law in every workplace because they “will not allow slavery to be introduced in Hungary”.
Ildikó Borbély Bangó, a lawmaker of the Socialists, said the government had “turned Hungary into the poorhouse of Europe over the past eight years”.
Independent liberal MP Anett Bősz said “we are fed up with the government’s oppressive measures” because no government can restrict people’s fundamental rights.
Co-leader of the green LMP party Márta Demeter demanded fair wages instead of “slave work”. She spoke out against politicians “serving the interests of multinationals”.
Tímea Szabó, co-leader of the Párbeszéd party, said the prime minister “betrays his own people because the slave law will tear millions of families apart”. She called for resistance, which “should continue until the government withdraws the slave law”.
Independent MP Bernadett Szél said the only way to end oppression is to fight against it in unity.
Ágnes Vadai, a lawmaker of the Democratic Coalition, said she is “fed up with the government riding roughshod over everyone while tolerating fraudsters and robbers”.
Jobbik MP Andrea Varga-Damm said they are demonstrating because “the government had turned against its own country and people”.
A message was read out to the crowd from Catholic Bishop Miklós Beer, who called on demonstrators to refrain from violence. He expressed his respect for the protesters’ determination, but warned that arson and violence undermine their intention of achieving peaceful goals.
The crowd completely filled Kossuth Square, where the parliament building was protected by police lines.
Similar demonstrations were held in seven other cities of the country, the police website police.hu said. There was no need for police intervention anywhere.
featured photo by Balázs Mohai/MTI