There is a social uprising in Hungary. Despite the weather under zero, between 15 and 20 thousand people marched last Sunday in the capital, Budapest, to reject a perverse labor reform pushed by the far right government of Viktor Orbán, a tyrant that controls power with iron hands since 2010.
By Daniel Sugasti
The Hungarian Prime Minister is known for been a fierce defender of closing European frontiers for refugees. In this sense, he has shielded his country with wire fences to stop migrants from entering. Mainly those from the Middle East, completely helpless people who risk their lives to escape from devastation of countries like Syria, and who are attempting better lives in Europe. Orbán, for example, sustains that all migrant is a potential “terrorist” that could represent danger for the “Christian values of Europe”. In this same context, marked by shocking statements and xenophobic measures, he went on to defend the death penalty.
The labor reform led to the current crisis. Protestors named it the slavery bill. It increases from 250 to 400 the maximum number of overtime hours allowed per year. Besides, it imposes a six-day labor week and authorizes entrepreneurs to pay overtime in up to 36 months.
Evidently, we are before a measure that overexploits the working class, imposed by a corrupt dictatorship and rejected by the people. The IWL-FI stands in absolute and unconditional support to the Hungarian people. We urge all social and left wing organizations to stand in solidarity with this struggle.
The Hungarian movement, with a dynamic still hard to specify, is apparently increasing. Besides Budapest, there were also protests in other six great cities: Szeged, Békéscsaba, Debrecen, Miskolc, Veszprém, and Györ.
Demonstrations up until now have been relatively “peaceful”. They have been taking place since last Wednesday (12/12), but the tenser day was on Sunday.
The demonstration was called “Merry Christmas, Mr. Prime Minister”, in reference to a parliamentary debate where the opposition questioned Orbán about his policies and he just wished “happy holidays”.
After a march around the capital, which passed in front of the Parliament, thousands of people went to the headquarters of public television MTV, official spokesperson of the government. As a result, they were repressed with tear gas and water jets. There were also clashes between police and protestors.
Unions, students and almost all opposition political parties have summoned the demonstrations. The voting of the labor reform (12/13) was turbulent and it included the occupation of the Parliament table by opposition representatives. There is crisis “above”.
One must highlight that this is not Orbán’s first attack against the working class. Previously, he adopted a law that practically turns the right to strike illegal. On the other hand, he lowered taxes on enterprises, which were already the lowest in the European Union (EU).
The government says that the slavery bill is necessary due to supposed shortage in labor power. In fact, in the last years, over 600 thousand Hungarians left the country, sick and tired of the dictatorship and the lousy economic and social conditions.
Orbán, using this alarming indicator, he argues that the only way to “compensate” the “lack” of labor power is increasing the hour workload of local workers.
The government also answered the protests using a beaten speech: everything is related to a “conspiracy” financed by the multimillionaire George Soros, or by “forces” that want to flood Hungary of migrant “dangers”. Saturday, Orbán’s party, the Fidesz, denounced that “criminals stand behind the confrontations in the streets.”
In other words, besides direct repression, there is an entire campaign of smear and slander against social protests.
However, a fact is evident. This is the greatest wave of protests against the dictator Orbán since he entered office. It is necessary to intensify the demonstrations and specify the movement’s program. It must go all the way and face the fight to overthrow the anti-worker, xenophobic and far right dictator that poses to turn labor laws even more “slavery-like”.
In our opinion, it is also necessary to hold a policy to incorporate the working class, both organized and not organized, to join the youth and the other “outraged” sectors facing the government. This would be an irresistible social force not only to end the slavery bill, but to advance and oust Orbán.