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Trade union leader protests ’authoritarian capitalism’

Trade unions and sympathisers protested against planned changes to the labor code in Budapest on Saturday, promising to continue their demonstrations on Monday, closing roads across the country, national news agency MTI reported in the morning.  

László Kordás, head of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation (MASZSZ), said at the weekend that unions are calling for the immediate withdrawal of amendments - which opposition critics have dubbed "slavery law" - that would extend the period employers may account overtime for the purpose of calculating wages and rest days from 12 months to three years, and would raise the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 to 400 hours. 

Unions are also calling for double-digit minimum wage rises next year and a broadening of the range of voucher elements that enjoy tax preferences, he added.

Trade unions will not allow this "strange form of authoritarian capitalism" to take away workersʼ "savings, rights and lives," MTI quoted Kordás as telling protesters in the capital.

According to Hungarian online news portal Index.hu, several thousand people attended Saturdayʼs demo. The main event was held at Jászai Mari tér, on the Pest side of Margaret Bridge, but a portion of protesters found their way to Kossuth tér, which was closed to the public, where they managed to push police back to the steps of the Parliament building. By 2 p.m., however, only a few hundred remained, and the conflict deescalated quickly, Index.hu reported.