Hungarian opposition: Focus on workers' rights instead of partisanship

On Tuesday, the Hungarian Industrial Association hosted a roundtable meeting of several opposition parties and trade unions to coordinate their plans on how to represent workers’ interests and hold upcoming demonstrations.

Alfahír is informed that the roundtable meeting was attended by political parties, parliamentary and non-parliamentary alike, as well as trade unions. According to their sources, the discussion focused on the plans for the upcoming protests against the amendments of the overtime act, and the participants agreed that opposition parties should not be taking over the role of trade unions or draw political gains from the demonstrations.

Jobbik MP Balázs Ander, who attended the meeting, told Alfahír that his party had asked the participants to agree on a safepack for workers. The 6-point package is based on employees’ constitutional rights to working conditions which respect their health, safety and dignity. So Jobbik asked the other parties to back their labour-related proposals such as the retirement option for men after 40 years of work (an opportunity already available for women), the restoration of early retirement schemes, the coordinated efforts to amend the Labour Code, the revision of the injustices in the regulation of strike action, the reinforcement of the labour safety inspection authority due to the increasing number of accidents at work, the Wage Union to eliminate the wage gap within the EU and the pay inequalities affecting state and local government employees in Hungary. The parties seemed open to the suggestions and they have until Thursday noon to offer their feedback on the workers’ safepack, which may then be modified accordingly.

“We hope that these six provisions will truly promote the interests of the people, and opposition parties may proceed towards a common goal,” Mr Ander said. If the opposition parties can agree on a programme, they will commit to implementing it when they get into government. “People are protesting in the streets but they are not doing it for us, politicians. On the contrary, it’s our job to do something for the people, and we want to make pledges which we can be held accountable for later on,” the MP asserted.

Last Wednesday, the Hungarian Parliament held a scandal-ridden meeting where the majority of the house passed the infamous slavery act, raising the annual number of voluntary overtime hours from 250 to 400 and allowing employers three years to pay the relevant wages. Critics of the law have pointed out that employees will be negatively affected as they might not dare to refuse the voluntary overtime in fear for their job, so the legislation, which was made by the government in an effort to alleviate the existing labour shortage, will ultimately put an unbearable load on Hungarian workers.

Protests against the slavery act have been going on since last Wednesday. Opposition parties, NGOs and trade unions are now organizing more demonstrations demanding President of the Republic János Áder not to sign it into law.


Alfahí -