An anti-government demonstration was held in Budapest on Saturday in protest against recent amendments to the labour code. Organised on Facebook, the demonstration was dubbed “National protest against the slave laws” and joined by opposition parties, unions and civil organisations.
The demonstrators gathering on Heroes’ Square were chanting “we won’t be slaves” and “Fidesz mafia”. The crowd moved through Andrassy Avenue towards the Parliament building.
Addressing the participants, László Kordás, head of the TU confederation MSZOSZ, said that they would present a list of demands to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán on Tuesday and give the government five days to set up a negotiating committee. If the government fails to set up the committee by deadline, the unions will hold a nationwide warning strike, and protesters will block roads and bridges, he said. The trade unions are prepared for “a militant period” because the government has “made a deal with capitalists” and “chose to side with heinous profit-hunters”, he said. Head of the teachers’ trade union PDSZ Tamás Szűcs called for action and said there was no reason to fear from strikes because they were the only way to succeed and force those in power to back off.
Socialist leader Bertalan Tóth said that unity has been created between opposition forces both in parliament and in the streets. He called on the opposition parties to cooperate in both the European and local elections later this year. He said the opposition parties should field joint candidates everywhere.
Conservative opposition Jobbik spokesman Péter Jakab said a petition would be launched against the “slave law”.
Opposition DK deputy leader Csaba Molnár said even if Prime Minister Viktor Orbán backs off and withdraws the labour code amendments, they would not stop because they are “rebelling” against the entire regime not just specific laws.
Opposition LMP lawmaker Antal Csárdi said four million employees were affected by the “slave law”, so the main task was to get it withdrawn and the labour code to be revised. He called the trade unions and other opposition parties for consultations on January 9. Opposition Párbeszéd co-leader Gergely Karácsony said the government was unable to apply the dictatorial tactics of “divide and rule” against the protesters.
Independent lawmaker Bernadett Szél said “the world must not belong to the populists and Hungary must not belong to Orbán”. Liberals executive and independent lawmaker Anett Bősz said that Hungary’s rule of law and democracy would have to be restored. Momentum deputy leader Anna Donáth said Hungarians were not slaves.