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Protests continue over Labor Code amendments

History

Amy Brouillette

Demonstrators again protested amendments to the Labor Code in cities around the country on Saturday. In Budapest, the protest was organized by the Youth For Democracy civil group and the Youth Chapter of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation (MSZSZ) under the banner "Bring the country to a halt - Budapest - blockade."

The demonstrators started marching toward Clark Ádám tér, at the Buda bridgehead of the Chain Bridge, from a number of locations in the capital, state news wire MTI reported Monday.

Some 50-60 demonstrators started out from Heroesʼ Square, and their number reached a few hundred by the time they arrived at Oktogon, a distance of about 1.5 kilometers. Demonstrators also marched from Várkert Bazár, Liberty Bridge (Szabadság híd), and Blaha Lujza tér.

A number of anti-government demonstrations have taken place in the capital and other cities around the country since lawmakers approved legislation in December raising the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 hours to 400 hours, and extending the period employers may account overtime for the purpose of calculating wages and rest days from 12 months to three years.   

Members of the government have defended the amendments to the Labor Code, which protestors have dubbed the "slave law," and have called the controversy over their passage a "pretense," a stance repeated on Saturday by government spokesman István Hollik.

No significant disturbances were reported, although news site 444.hu reported that six people needed to be removed by police from the Chain Bridge, citing police as saying that the protestors had obstructed traffic passing over the bridge after the protest organizers had declared the demonstration over. The group continued to ignore repeated warnings from officers to move from the road, and were subsequently booked for a minor violation of regulations.

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