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Watch: Hungary's new 'slave law' sparks protests in Budapest

Prostesters against the new "slave law" burn bins in front of parliament
Prostesters against the new "slave law" burn bins in front of parliament
By Mark ArmstrongPálfi Rita with Reuters
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Protests took place inside and outside the Hungarian parliament as anger grows at new labour legislation that some are calling the "slave law".


Protesters clashed with police in the Hungarian capital Budapest for a second night during ongoing demonstrations against new legislation that has been dubbed the "slave law".

You can watch footage of Thursday's protest in the video player, above.

The change allows employers to ask staff to work up to 400 extra hours per year of overtime instead of 250. It could amount to another eight hours a week for some workers, equivalent to an extra working day.

An amendment that has also enraged unions is that employers will be able to delay payments for the extra hours for up to three years. Previously it was one year.

This is Euronews' Budapest correspondent, Daniel Bozsik, explaining why people are protesting.

The legislation was pushed through by Prime Minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party on Wednesday by way of their large majority.

Facebook/Szabó Tímea (Párbeszéd Magyarországért)
An opposition MP blows a whistle in the face of Prime Minister Viktor OrbanFacebook/Szabó Tímea (Párbeszéd Magyarországért)

Opposition MP's sought to block the vote and some held up a banner reading "Thank you Fidesz" with "Year of the Families" crossed out and "Year of the Slaves" written instead. The stated aim of Orban's administration is to help families.

Opposition MP's carry a protest banner reading "Year of the Slave" to parliamentReuters

Protesters shouting "Traitors, traitors" and "Orban go to hell" faced off against hundreds of police who stood on the steps of the parliament building.

A Reuters photographer said the crowd then moved towards a side gate, where some threw objects at police, who responded with pepper spray.

Viktor Orban's government has built a system critics see as autocratic, affecting businesses, academia, the courts and the media, but he has rarely angered different domestic voter groups at the same time.

Some people have also been angered by a new law passed on the same day to set up courts overseen directly by the justice minister.

The administrative courts will take over cases about government business such as taxation and elections currently handled in the main legal system. The government said the courts would be presided over by independent judges who would be able to handle cases more efficiently.

Critics say it will allow political interference in judicial matters and further undermine the rule of law.

In a statement, the rights group the Helsinki Committee said the law "is a serious threat to the rule of law in Hungary and runs counter to values Hungary signed up to when it joined the European Union."

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