Hungary MPs physically thrown out of state TV station as protests continue over new ‘slave law’
Two Hungarian lawmakers were physically pushed out of a building where they were protesting the government’s new labour laws.
The government in Hungary, currently run by right-wing Viktor Orbán, has passed new laws last week that allowed businesses and employers to increase the amount of overtime Hungarians can work.
The law has been dubbed the “slave law” by critics; it would allow employers to ask people to work up to 400 hours extra per year and could delay paying the overtime wages for three years.
WATCH: Hungarians continue protest of so-called ‘slave law’
The labour law has been the catalyst for protests across the country. People have been demonstrating at Parliament since the law was passed on Wednesday.
The protests grew on Sunday when about 10,000 Hungarians took to the streets of Budapest to march against the government.
The demonstration was organized by opposition parties, students, and trade unions to demand a free media, an independent judiciary, as well as the repeal of the “slave law.”
The march was largely peaceful until police fired tear gas at protesters jostling outside the TV station late at night. Footage showed people crouching and blinded by the gas.
Late on Sunday, several opposition lawmakers gained access to the state TV building in Budapest seeking to have a petition read out, but security personnel told them that was impossible.
They spent the night, but two of them were thrown out of the building Monday morning. MP Bernadett Szel posted footage of the ejection of her and her coworker Akos Hadhazy on her Facebook page.
“We wanted to have our petition read out,” she said in the video.
A spokesperson for Orbán’s party said the lawmakers were abusing their powers by entering the TV station, but protesters have denounced the state TV as propaganda.
On Sunday night, the channel made no mention of the MPs camped out in the building, the Guardian reported, instead focusing on stories about migration across Europe.
“Lawmakers being thrown out using physical force is unlawful and unjustified,” Daniel Dobrentey, a lawyer at the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union, told Reuters.
Gábor Gyori, a senior analyst at think-tank Policy Solutions in Budapest, explained to NPR that much of the anger from protests come from the fact that Orban rushed the law through Parliament without consulting opposition parties or labour unions.
He was able to do that because he had previously changed the election laws so that his party had won control of two-thirds of the government, Gyori said.
The ruling government says the overtime law is still voluntary, and is necessary due to a labour shortage in the country.
But critics said it gives the employers too much control over employees.
“That doesn’t leave the ones that don’t want to do overtime in a very good place in terms of the company that will give work for them,” student protester Lukacs Hayes told the BBC.
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*with files from Reuters
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