Hungarian unions protest plan to relax labor 'slave law'

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Hungarian trade unions are protesting a government plan to raise workers' allowable overtime from 250 to 400 hours a year and the relaxing of other labor rules to offset Hungary's growing labor shortage.

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.

Union leaders said Saturday that what they call the "slave law" proposals are seeking to boost companies' profits at workers' expense.

Laszlo Kordas, head of the Hungarian Trade Union Confederation, told several thousand protesters that Hungarians were working "at Europe's lowest wages."

Reasons for the labor shortage include an aging population, higher wages elsewhere in the European Union, workers' low mobility within Hungary, and the government's fierce resistance to immigration.