Opposition parties and trade unions on Thursday slammed a bill submitted to parliament on Tuesday by lawmakers of ruling Fidesz that would raise the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 to 400 hours.
Also, employers would only have to compensate employees every three years for overtime instead of the current 12 months.
Green opposition LMP said that the bill would “stealthily” introduce a six-day working week. Hungarian employees already work the longest hours in the European Union for “humiliatingly” low wages, deputy group leader Antal Csárdi said. “It seems the authors of the proposal have turned on their constituents to raise the profit of multinational companies,” he said.
According to an opposition Jobbik MP, the planned change to the labour code is “anti-family and anti-life”. Tamás Pintér said Jobbik will initiate talks with trade unions with a view to thwarting the planned changes billed by two ruling Fidesz party MPs.
Pintér insisted that the proposal, if passed into law, would leave employees one day off each month rather than per week, and allow employers to pay overtime only once every three years, with employees potentially required to work 14 months in a single year. Pintér also criticised proponents of the changes for not consulting trade unions and employers.
The leftist Democratic Coalition (DK) called on Fidesz to withdraw the proposal. Lawmaker Gábor Nemes told a press conference that the proposal was “unprofessional and unfounded”. Fidesz “did not consult anyone” before submitting it, he added. Whether it complies with EU regulations is also questionable, he said.
Nemes noted that the amendment would give employers the possibility to “request ten hours of work a day” of their employees.
In a statement, the Fidesz party said that anyone who wants to work and earn more should be able to do so without being tangled up in red tape. It added that the Hungarian economy was performing well and the country was on a sustainable growth path, with more and more people in work earning higher wages. “It looks like a lot of people would gladly work even more,” the statement said.
“We’d like to dismantle these bureaucratic obstacles, given that we’re the government of job-creation,” it added.
featured image via Attila Balázs/MTI