Labour Research January 2012

European news

New labour code agreed in Hungary

Unions, employers and the government in Hungary have reached agreement on a new labour code.

The agreement, signed on 2 December, represents a limited success for the unions, who feared the government’s initial proposals for the code would substantially reduce individual employment rights and weaken their own position.

Among the measures included in the code’s first draft were cuts in overtime payments and redundancy compensation, as well as reduced protection for women returning to work after having children.

There were also proposals to reduce protection for workplace union representatives and strengthen the position of works councils at the expense of workplace union bodies.

Despite protests and threats of strike action, the unions have not succeeded in getting all this reversed.

As a result, SZEF, one of the major confederations representing public sector workers, has refused to agree to the new text. However, most unions have done so, although Imre Palkovics, head of MOSZ, one of the smaller union confederations, said the choice had been between “bad and worse”.

For Peter Pataky, head of the larger MSZOSZ confederation, the new text is “far from what we wanted”, but he believes that it “provides the minimum conditions for trade union operation”.

It is expected that the new code will come into effect in July this year.