Dec. 28, 2018
On December 12, the far-right government of Viktor Orbán in Hungary passed a law in parliament, permitting employers to make employees to work for 400 hours of overtime a year. The law also extended the time frame for giving overtime pay to three years. The provision, which was quickly dubbed as a ‘slave law’ by activists and unions, sparked massive protests with thousands hitting the streets. A massive strike has been planned in January 2019. Peoples Dispatch spoke to Guzslován Gábor of the Federation of Metal Workers Union of Hungary on the new law and the protests that have rocked the country.
PD: Why do you call the new labor legislation in Hungary as the “slave law”?
GG: At the beginning of its rule, the Orbán regime came up with a ‘regularization’ of the Strike Law. Later, a Work Law Book was introduced in 2012. They rewrote all the rules regarding work and these were highly unfriendly to the employees, limiting the rights of workers and of course, the possibility of unionization. The current ‘Slave Law’ marks a further tightening of that Work Law Book and is the last straw for people, workers and trade unions. The situation has become worse because the employers have got new legal tools to make work time flexible and generate more overtime. We have reached an unbearable level of vulnerability. The time for rest and the time we get to spend with our children has come down. Companies are able to avoid paying overtime costs too. It’s especially cynical that this law was passed in 2018, which the government had designated as the ‘Year of the families.’