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13th December, 2018

Chaotic scenes in House as MPs vote for overtime bill

Parliament approved the legislative amendment known as the “slavery bill” on Wednesday, amidst what Index called the most scandalous scenes in Parliament since the 1990 change of regime.

Before the session could begin, 10-12 opposition MPs blocked the stairway leading to the rostrum, preventing Speaker Laszlo Kover from taking his seat and opening the session.

In response, Kover opened the session from his MP’s seat and had his deputy Janos Latorcai, also of Fidesz, chair the session from his MP’s seat.

Prominent Fidesz politicians including communications chief Antal Rogan, Prime Minister’s Office leader Gergely Gulyas and Prime Minister Viktor Orban formed a wall around Latorcai to keep opposition MPs from interrupting his activity.

The bill was passed with 130 affirmative votes, 52 dissensions and one abstention, while opposition MPs jeered and whistled and continuously tried to impede the voting procedure.

Initially the bill was to increase the maximum number of overtime hours in one year from the present 250 to 400.

Later this was amended by keeping the 250 hours as a general rule which can be increased to 300 hours in a collective bargaining agreement.

However, employees may work up to 400 overtime hours a year by agreement with the employer, bypassing the union and the collective bargaining agreement.

Another provision of the bill that has drawn strong protest states that employers do not have to compensate employees for overtime for up to three years.

A survey by Policy Agenda found that 83% of working people do not support the amendment to the labour code.

German companies present in Hungary are said to be happy with the change. (index.hu; atv.hu; 24.hu; hirado.hu; hvg.hu; nepszava.hu)
13th December, 2018

Police clash with protesters

A crowd protesting against bills passed yesterday clashed with police at two locations after wandering from Kossuth ter to Heroes Square and back last night.

Riot police deployed tear gas to disperse a crowd of about 1,000 protesters who had engaged in a stand-off on the steps of Parliament after pushing past police lines.

Police said protesters had thrown eggs and beer cans at them.

Earlier, the crowd confronted police at the Fidesz party headquarters.

The protest had begun outside Parliament in the afternoon when some 200 people joined a Momentum rally.

Momentum executive committee member Daniel Berg was the first to speak, thanking the opposition for its efforts on Wednesday, adding: “Don’t let our compatriots be turned into slaves”.

The larger part of the crowd, hundreds of people, proceeded toward Margaret Bridge at 5 p.m., led by Dialogue MP Bence Tordai, with shouts of “dirty Fidesz”.

As they encouraged passers-by to join them, the crowd grew to 500-600, and temporarily closed Margaret Bridge.

Towards 5.30 p.m. the demonstrators moved toward Oktogon, and from there to the Fidesz headquarters on Lendvay utca near Heroes Square.

There they found a line of police protecting the building, but two demonstrators managed to climb on a balcony and hoist an EU flag.

As the crowd pressed against police lines, some shouted: “we’ve come to work overtime”.

When protesters threw eggs at the building, police responded with pepper spray.

The protesters then returned to Kossuth ter, and chanted such slogans as “Orban geci” and “Viktator”. (hvg.hu; 24.hu; nepszava.hu; 444.hu; index.hu)
13th December, 2018

Ethnic Hungarians can vote in EP elections

Parliament on Wednesday passed an amendment entitling Hungarian citizens without an EU address to vote in EU elections.

The official newspaper of the EU carried a resolution in July encouraging member states to give their citizens living outside the EU a chance to vote.

However, only resident EU citizens may be candidates for the European Parliament. (hvg.hu)
13th December, 2018

New state fund for TV productions

Parliament passed a bill yesterday to create a fund for subsidising movies and series meant to be shown on TV, not in cinemas.

Movie productions supported by the Hungarian National Film Fund are not eligible for the new funding, nor those excluded by government decree.

Only productions intended to be broadcast on Hungarian TV may bid for the funding.

Revenues for the fund may come from voluntary contributions and the central budget but the media council can also decide to reassign funds from state media manager MTVA.

The budget is to be approved by Parliament as a supplement to the budget of the media authority NMHH and the Media Council.

Funding decisions will be made by a film panel within the NMHH, overseen by a three-member supervisory committee. (infostart.hu)
13th December, 2018

TEK vehicles on city streets

Counter-terrorist units and police are stepping up protection of Hungary’s Christmas fairs in response to the shooting incident in Strasbourg on Tuesday night.

The incident, in which two people were killed and several others injured, shows that the terrorist threat has grown in the whole of Europe, the Government Information Centre said in a Wednesday statement.

For this reason, it said, the government’s national security cabinet decided that the Counter-Terrorist Centre (TEK) and police are increasing the defence of Christmas fairs.

In addition, TEK vehicles have been ordered to appear on city streets. (hvg.hu)

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