Hungary’s far-right, xenophobic government rose to power by exploiting racism and economic anxiety, just like Trump — and just like Trump, they’ve pursued an agenda that uses performative racist cruelty to distract people while they enact policies that make the rich much richer, at everyone else’s expense.
The latest of these policies is the so-called “slave labour law,” which allows employers to force workers to work up to 400 hours of overtime per year, and to defer payment for this overtime by three years.
Police gassed protesters outside the parliament where this bill was being voted on, but even so, the speaker of the house wasn’t able to reach the podium and had to call the vote from the floor. The Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban won the vote, and the slave labour law is proceeding, as is another measure to replace the courts with “administrative judges,” appointed by the president’s justice minister, and operating without judicial oversight, for many proceedings.
In Hungary, the law previously allowed for companies to demand a maximum of 250 hours of overtime in a given year.
But for someone who works eight-hour days, the new amount of 400 hours is the equivalent of an hour of extra labour every day, an extra day’s work every week, or 50 extra days each year.
Mr Orban’s government, however, argues that the labour reform will benefit workers as well as companies who need to fill a labour shortage.
“We have to remove bureaucratic rules so that those who want to work and earn more can do so,” he said on Tuesday before the bill passed.
Neither the country’s trade unions nor the political opposition agree.