Hungarian opposition groups issued an ultimatum to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán: accept their demands or brace for more street protests and strike action.

On January 5, thousands of people rallied in Budapest and smaller marches took place in other Hungarian towns and cities, as a broad new protest movement launched what it is calling “a year of resistance” against Orbán’s rule.

The demonstrations began last month when his government passed what critics call the “slave law”, which allows Hungarian firms to demand 400 hours of annual overtime from workers and gives them three years to make payment.

As reported by The Irish Times, the changes were deemed exploitative by union leaders, who for the first time came out in protest alongside political and civic organisations that accuse the Prime Minister of destroying Hungary’s democracy and rule of law.

Laszlo Kordas, the president of Hungary’s trade union federation, warned that workers would step up protest action if Orbán refused to negotiate.

“The government has abandoned us and sided with the heinous profit-seekers over its own people,” he said, referring to the big manufacturers – including German carmakers in Hungary – that the “slave law” is perceived to favour.