The demonstration in Budapest on Wednesday night against parliament’s changes to overtime regulations were “illegitimate”, where “aggressive political activists” also participated, Gergely Gulyás, the Head of the Prime Minister’s Office, told a regular press conference on Thursday.
Earlier on Wednesday,
parliament voted to extend the period employers may account overtime for the purpose of calculating wages and rest days from twelve months to three years, and to raise the upper threshold for annual overtime from 250 to 400 hours.
Regarding the opposition blocking the house speaker’s dais and obstructing proceedings with loud whistling and shouting in a bid to thwart the vote, Gulyás said that they “made themselves ridiculous”.
The ruling majority preserved parliament’s dignity by ensuring lawful and constitutional operations, he said.
The legality of the parliamentary voting system, which some opposition lawmakers seemed to cast doubt on during the protest, is beyond any reasonable doubt, he said.
Regarding street demonstrations against the overtime regulations later that day, Gulyás said that the right to free association was enshrined in the constitution. However, it should be practiced peacefully and within the legal limits, he said. Read more about the demonstration and check out photos videos HERE.
Gulyás said that Wednesday’s protests, where the crowd filled Kossuth Square in front of Parliament and threw objects at the police cordon, was “illegitimate”. Among the participants there were aggressive political activists, including members of American financier “George Soros’s organisations”, he insisted.
Some of the demonstrators “showed open hatred for Christians”, Gulyás added.
So far, the police have arrested 34 people, and 5 police officers suffered injuries during the protests, he said.
Concerning the new labour amendment, Gulyás said that “contrary to what the opposition says, any overtime work will only be done on a voluntary basis” and insisted that the legal maximum for overtime did not exceed “the practice of other European countries”. He said that employers would be obliged to settle payments for overtime work each month and added that suggestions of a six-day working week “are lies”.
Answering a question, Gulyás said that the government had not discussed the overtime regulations with any company. The new rules have not been met with “any tangible resistance from society”, the only protest coming from the opposition “which now throws away the basic rules of democracy” and which is “more and more aggressive as its support is dwindling”, he said.
Concerning a new law on administrative courts, Gulyás said that the bill’s passage on Wednesday was a “significant achievement”, and added that both lawyers and academics supported the legislation. The law “contains necessary guarantees” in terms of the rule of law and excludes any possibility of political influence, he insisted. The new administrative courts will operate “independently but within a unified judicial system”, he said.
Answering a question concerning two of Viktor Orbán’s body guards entering parliament’s assembly hall on Wednesday, Gulyás said that the prime minister is a “highly protected dignitary” and “since he was put in physical danger by the opposition it would be difficult to condemn the behaviour of those protecting him”.
Regarding the issue of migrant visas which the European Parliament accepted on Tuesday, Gulyas said that the measure enhanced the risk of terrorist attacks similar to the shooting in Strasbourg on Tuesday. The visa would allow asylum seekers to enter the EU so they can submit their requests for asylum.
The decision “lacks common sense”, and the Hungarian government rejects it, Gulyas said. The fact that the resolution was rejected once in the EP and then re-submitted with “fake amendments” so that the “pro-migration majority” could vote in favour, paints a sad picture of European democracy, he said. Instead, the body should announce that migration has to be stopped.
Gulyás also said that the government’s national security cabinet had decided to step up patrols in Budapest and in other cities, as well as to deploy armoured vehicles to secure major Christmas fairs. “The government has taken all measures to ensure that Christmas preparations in public areas are undisturbed,” he said.
Concerning the EU’s next seven-year budget, on the agenda of the community’s summit starting on Thursday, Gulyás said the government was disappointed that “the draft focuses on migration and border management”. “Migration should not be managed but stopped,” he went on to say.
On the subject of Brexit, Gulyás said
the Hungarian government was interested in a “orderly British departure” and said that if the European Council approved such a framework, Hungary would support it.