First, You Burn down Parliament, and THEN You Go with Slave Labor

It appears that Hungarian PM Viktor Orban has moved too quickly to make slave labor a reality in his country:

Viktor Orban, the far-right prime minister of Hungary, has been confronted by an unusually persistent wave of street protests after pushing through a bill this month that could require workers to put in up to 400 hours of overtime — a measure that opponents call a “slave law.”

About 5,000 demonstrators took to the streets of Budapest again on Friday, after President Janos Ader signed the bill into law. In a radio interview Friday morning, Mr. Orban dismissed opposition to the changes as “hysterical shouting.”

Since re-entering office in 2010, Mr. Orban has made a series of moves that have set off alarms among European allies and others in Hungary: curbing judicial independence, restricting news media freedom and plurality, and blatantly enriching his business allies. But few of his actions have ignited such anger as the changes to the labor law.

What does the law say?

The amendments to the Hungarian labor code passed by the governing majority in Parliament raise the yearly cap on overtime to 400 hours from 250, and gives companies three years instead of one to pay for the work.

In some cases it also lets them avoid paying extra for overtime, allowing them to compensate some employees at their regular hourly rate instead, experts said.


Analysts say the labor law changes have struck a rare chord among ordinary Hungarians, including outside the opposition heartland of the capital, Budapest, because the issue affects their daily lives.


Why did the government take this step?

The government needs Hungarians to accept longer hours because the country is running out of workers.

As many as 350,000 Hungarians, or more than 5 percent of the country’s working-age population, are working in another part of the European Union, according to Mr. Kollo.

These people have left to work elsewhere because pay is complete sh%$ in Hungary.

You have people voting with their feet.

Opponents of the changes argue that they were passed as a favor to multinational companies like German automakers, which have built plants in the country in recent years and whose economic model depends on a cheap and flexible work force.

And there you have it:  It’s a desperate race to the bottom, and this is a (possibly the) core EU value, which, ironically enough, has denied Orban the freedom of action that (for example) Mussolini had in the 1920s.

It will be fascinating to see where this ends, but my guess is that it’s time for the ordinary Hungarian to get the f%$# out of Dodge.


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