Growing Number of Companies and Institutions Reject the Overtime Act
Gábor Sarnyai 2019.01.10.
More and more municipalities and companies are saying no to the new overtime regulation. As of now, three significant city councils have voted in favor of limiting the implementation of the so-called “slave law.” A few multinational companies have also joined the initiative.
Salgotarján’s municipality was the first in the country to decide not to introduce the overtime law to companies and institutions owned by the city. Fidesz-representatives didn’t participate in the assembly’s debate nor vote. Local members of Fidesz stated that the national law can’t be overwritten by the regulations issued by the municipality.
The Overtime Act was also on the political agenda in Szeged. The City Council accepted the proposal restricting the use of the law. Fidesz members based in Szeged voted against the regulation.
Fidesz-KDNP representatives didn’t appear at the assembly meeting in Szombathely, leaving the Mayor alone with the opposition. Along with left-wing representatives, Deputy Mayor (Pro Savaria) Miklós Molnár and Péter Balassa (Jobbik) also voted in favor of the proposal. The assembly officially asked Csaba Hende, the Szombathely district’s MP, to lobby against the law in the Parliament.
In Budapest, the Socialist, DK and LMP representatives of the Budapest General Assembly requested that the municipality act similarly.
Tesco won’t increase its working hours within the next two years
One of the biggest chain stores in Hungary announced that they plan to avoid enforcing the new regulation if possible. According to Magyar Idők, the company has already promised that it won’t expect employees to work over 250 hours.
Secretary of Independent Union of Trade Workers (KDFSZ) Csaba Bubenkó believes Tesco’s employees are already overworked and that if people collapse under the pressure, it won’t be to the company’s benefit. He also noted that the agreement would increase the company’s attractiveness, especially in such a tenuous labor market.
Tesco has taken a substantial hit due to the workforce shortage. The company offers one of the lowest salaries in the trade sector. As a result, workers organized several strikes in 2017.
Spar Hungary followed Tesco’s lead and announced that they won’t be enforcing the 400 hour overtime. The company claims that it had already decided not to alter the rules it’s had in place for years.
According to news reports, the Trade Union of Trade Employees (KASZ) is negotiating with four different multinational companies to convince them not to implement the amendments of the law.
The President of the European Trade Union Confederation has also raised concerns
Luca Visentini thinks the act violates the right to rest and healthy life, and perhaps more notably, the sacrament of family life—something often mentioned by the Hungarian government.
In his letter, Visentini called attention to the fact that employers and their employees are not on the same level. As a result, it would be difficult for employees to effectively say no to a supervisor. Moreover, the potential three-year postponement of payment may further exacerbate the situation.
He advised the following in his letter to the Prime Minister:
“I would like to recall what we have been able to discuss in the past: cheap labor and social dumping are not the best way to attract investment because it generates a brain drain in the medium term and leads to a lack of to high-quality work that can not be overcome by overwork. Every successful economy and labor market shows that higher education and higher wages are essential factors for investment and sustainable growth.”