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14:23

*PARTNER CONTENT* Hungary First? Resisting Orban's Slave Law

Hungary, Multiple locations
January 23, 2019 at 06:00 GMT +00:00 · Published

In Late 2018, thousands of Hungarian's took to the streets across the country in protest against an overtime law dubbed "Orbán's Slave Law". The law which passed through parliament last month, gives employers the right to demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year from staff and the right to delay payment for this extra work for up to 3 years. According to activists, the law is designed to attract foreign capital to Hungary which is currently home to multiple multinational companies including German companies Mercedes, Continental and Audi. But at what cost?

At the Continental factory in the western city of Verszprem, redfish spoke with worker Gabor Guzlován who told us how the law will affect him and his colleagues: "I think that for us workers, this law is increasing our dependency. Companies are able to tailor the amount you work according to production and demand: how soon, how fast, how much should be produced. And this is the danger of this policy, that we'll be left vulnerable by this fluctuation."

Gabor highlighted the difference between the standard of living in Hungary and Germany. "This is what's totally different to the West: there, you can live and order your life, with better salaries. In Hungary, our ability to do this has been damaged. It's common that you can't pay some bills, you have to chose between water or electricity. And because some bill isn't paid, in the next month you might take some overtime to get the additional income."

In recent years, Hungarians have been leaving the country in large numbers, with around 650,000 now living in abroad. This means that multinationals like Audi, Continental and Mercedes, who Orban has rolled the red carpet out for in recent years, are now missing out on the cheap labour they were promised by him.

The protests themselves are made up of a mix of multiple political backgrounds and classes, including red flag waving communists, which for Hungary - a country where public discourse has long been hostile to communism - is particularly surprising. Philosopher and public intellectual, Gaspar Tamas, explained the significance of this:

"We've seen such flags in the former Yugoslavia and other places. But (not) in Hungary, which has been for a long time a very conservative country, strongly anti-communist. It hasn't been rejected by the trade unions, by the workers, by the demonstrators. Tamas also noted the significance of the protests being not only centred on the metropolis of Budapest, but rather scattered across the country:

"This is a new thing and also this is organized by the workers all of these closures of motorways and suchlike. And for the first time since Mr. Orban is in power, the government seems to be hesitating. The reaction of the Orban administration though, has also been characteristically defiant and relied on its favourite bogeyman, George Soros, to dismiss the protests. redfish's Yasmin Fanselow challenged Orban's spokesperson Zoltán Kovács, to provide evidence of Soros' alleged involvement, but no evidence was forthcoming.

Yasmin Fanswelow: "You had said that last month's protesters were in the pay of the foreign trained activists of the Soros network. Do you have any hard evidence of this?"

Zoltán Kovács: "Yes the hard evidence was what you've seen on the streets. We've seen the activists who've been active and engaged in all those protests for the past couple of years. "

Student Activist Nora Eörsi though, completely dismissed the rumours of the protests being organised as part of a liberal Soros conspiracy. "It has nothing to do with EU. It has nothing to do with being liberal or not. What we get a lot is that we are Soros, paid by Soros ,and Soros agents and stuff like that. Which is very funny, we are not, we are very poor students. We are pushing the trade unions to organise themselves and... strike."

For the workers and students who have taken to the streets it's clear that the government is not on their side. They believe that this law was designed to benefit multinational companies and erode labour rights. But it also exposes one of the big lies of right wing nationalists like Orban, who denounce globalisation in the same breath as introducing policies that encourage it.

14:23
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Description

In Late 2018, thousands of Hungarian's took to the streets across the country in protest against an overtime law dubbed "Orbán's Slave Law". The law which passed through parliament last month, gives employers the right to demand up to 400 hours of overtime a year from staff and the right to delay payment for this extra work for up to 3 years. According to activists, the law is designed to attract foreign capital to Hungary which is currently home to multiple multinational companies including German companies Mercedes, Continental and Audi. But at what cost?

At the Continental factory in the western city of Verszprem, redfish spoke with worker Gabor Guzlován who told us how the law will affect him and his colleagues: "I think that for us workers, this law is increasing our dependency. Companies are able to tailor the amount you work according to production and demand: how soon, how fast, how much should be produced. And this is the danger of this policy, that we'll be left vulnerable by this fluctuation."

Gabor highlighted the difference between the standard of living in Hungary and Germany. "This is what's totally different to the West: there, you can live and order your life, with better salaries. In Hungary, our ability to do this has been damaged. It's common that you can't pay some bills, you have to chose between water or electricity. And because some bill isn't paid, in the next month you might take some overtime to get the additional income."

In recent years, Hungarians have been leaving the country in large numbers, with around 650,000 now living in abroad. This means that multinationals like Audi, Continental and Mercedes, who Orban has rolled the red carpet out for in recent years, are now missing out on the cheap labour they were promised by him.

The protests themselves are made up of a mix of multiple political backgrounds and classes, including red flag waving communists, which for Hungary - a country where public discourse has long been hostile to communism - is particularly surprising. Philosopher and public intellectual, Gaspar Tamas, explained the significance of this:

"We've seen such flags in the former Yugoslavia and other places. But (not) in Hungary, which has been for a long time a very conservative country, strongly anti-communist. It hasn't been rejected by the trade unions, by the workers, by the demonstrators. Tamas also noted the significance of the protests being not only centred on the metropolis of Budapest, but rather scattered across the country:

"This is a new thing and also this is organized by the workers all of these closures of motorways and suchlike. And for the first time since Mr. Orban is in power, the government seems to be hesitating. The reaction of the Orban administration though, has also been characteristically defiant and relied on its favourite bogeyman, George Soros, to dismiss the protests. redfish's Yasmin Fanselow challenged Orban's spokesperson Zoltán Kovács, to provide evidence of Soros' alleged involvement, but no evidence was forthcoming.

Yasmin Fanswelow: "You had said that last month's protesters were in the pay of the foreign trained activists of the Soros network. Do you have any hard evidence of this?"

Zoltán Kovács: "Yes the hard evidence was what you've seen on the streets. We've seen the activists who've been active and engaged in all those protests for the past couple of years. "

Student Activist Nora Eörsi though, completely dismissed the rumours of the protests being organised as part of a liberal Soros conspiracy. "It has nothing to do with EU. It has nothing to do with being liberal or not. What we get a lot is that we are Soros, paid by Soros ,and Soros agents and stuff like that. Which is very funny, we are not, we are very poor students. We are pushing the trade unions to organise themselves and... strike."

For the workers and students who have taken to the streets it's clear that the government is not on their side. They believe that this law was designed to benefit multinational companies and erode labour rights. But it also exposes one of the big lies of right wing nationalists like Orban, who denounce globalisation in the same breath as introducing policies that encourage it.

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