BUDAPEST, Hungary— Hungary's parliament on Wednesday approved amendments to labor laws — changes that trade unions and opponents have criticized as a "slave law" benefiting employers.
The government-backed proposal was approved by 130-52 with one abstention despite opposition efforts to stop the vote by blowing whistles and sirens during most of the voting process and blocking access to the parliamentary speaker's pulpit.
The voting on the amendments was also briefly delayed when members of the opposition sang the national anthem.
The changes raise workers' allowable overtime from 250 to 400 hours a year and relax other labor rules in a bid to offset Hungary's growing labor shortage.
The legislation also extends to three years from one year the period employers get to settle the payment of accrued overtime and allows employers to agree on overtime arrangements directly with workers, outside collective bargaining agreements and without having to include unions in the negotiations.
The government says labor flexibility is needed to satisfy investors' needs — like those of the German car companies whose factories help drive Hungary's economic growth — and to allow workers looking to earn more to work longer hours.
Opposition parties said the vote was invalid on procedural grounds and the far-right Jobbik party said it would hold a protest later Wednesday asking President Janos Ader to refrain from signing the amendments into law.