Mass demonstrations in Budapest against changes to the labor code have been fueled by opposition parties and George Soros, the ruling Fidesz coalition claims.
Police have been forced to repel large crowds attempting to storm Parliament, while inside, MPs have heckled and harassed fellow lawmakers and even blocked access to the speaker’s podium in an attempt to thwart a vote on the legislation, which eventually passed by large majority.
Some protesters have donned masks in defiance of organizers’ requests to avoid facial coverings, and police have responded with tear gas and defensive tactics after being pelted with eggs, beer cans, and sound grenades, leaving five officers injured, Daily News Hungary reports.
Socialist Party leader Bertalan Toth told reporters that he organized the protest actions on the floor of parliament, and is now facing potential fines along with fellow Socialist Party members for their disruptive behavior.
MUST WATCH: As the National Assembly of Hungary descends into chaos, opposition MP Bence Tordai rolls up on PM Orban and trolls him to his face. This is unprecedented. Orban is visibly uncomfortable. He was not counting on this. #Hungary pic.twitter.com/C8XCKN9A6G
— Benjamin Novak (@b_novak) December 12, 2018
“The opposition, in a hopeless position, made clowns of themselves in Parliament, acting aggressively and colluding with the Soros organizations that organized violent street protests,” Fidesz said in a statement. “The point of the labor code amendment is to ensure that those who want to work and earn more don’t face bureaucratic obstacles.”
Opponents of the bill are calling it the “slave law,” as it reportedly expands allowable overtime hours from 250 to 400 per year, and enables workers to negotiate overtime agreements with employers outside of union oversight.
“I pay attention to everyone, especially the trade unions, I observe their opinions, respect the freedom of opinion and take all the arguments raised into consideration,” Prime Minister Viktor Orbán told the press. “In this case, I believe the arguments raised weighed less than the bill. This is a good law that will work to the benefit of employees.”
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