The biggest Czech steel producer, Mittal Steel Ostrava, and a subsidiary seek to cut around 1,000 posts from their combined workforce of 9,280, the group said Friday. An incentives package that encourages workers to quit the parent company and its Vysoke Pece Ostrava subsidiary is part of an ongoing restructuring aimed at increasing productivity at Mittal Steel's Czech operations, it added. The company's personnel manager Jiri Gwozdz said the company has still not achieved the productivity of Western European companies or even the European average. Mittal Steel Ostrava is 70.67 percent owned by Netherlands-based Mittal Steel, the biggest steel producer worldwide, while the remainder is held by the Czech government.
President Vaclav Klaus has said he expects Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek to report to him on the state of the coalition talks by the first week of August. President Klaus said that after a round of separate meetings with the heads of all parties in parliament following a national election last month which produced a stalemate on the Czech political scene. Last month President Klaus authorised Mr Topolanek, whose party received the largest share of the votes, to launch talks on a new governing coalition. However, the negotiations have produced no concrete result as both the right and the left have 100 deputies in the 200-member lower house after the June parliamentary elections.
The next round of the election of the leadership of the lower house will take place next Friday, on July 21, the lower house election commission announced on Friday. The chamber's constituent session was suspended after 30 minutes on Friday morning - the vote could not be held as no candidate for a lower house chairperson had been fielded. The deadline for the nomination of candidates for chairperson will be July 19.
Health Minister David Rath has filed a lawsuit against the former deputy chairman of the Civic Democratic Party Miroslav Macek over the slap he had dealt him during the May national conference of dentists, a spokesman for the Prague City Court said on Friday. Besides a one-million crown compensation, Mr Rath is demanding an apology to be published by the national news agency, and broadcast by the public Czech Television and the commercial TV station Nova. Mr Macek says he stands by his act, adding the slap was in retaliation for Mr Rath's having insulted his wife.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek proposed to President Vaclav Klaus on Friday that he arrange a joint meeting along with the leader of the Civic Democrats Mirek Topolanek to try and solve the post-election stalemate. Speaking after meeting Mr Klaus on Friday morning, Mr Paroubek reiterated the view of his Social Democrats that a caretaker government was the way out of the stalemate. However, Mirek Topolanek who met President Klaus on Friday afternoon rejected the idea of a joint meeting with Jiri Paroubek and President Klaus.
The leader of the British Conservative Party David Cameron has announced a new grouping in the European Parliament made up of his party and the Czech Civic Democrats. At the request of its new partner, however, Mr Cameron said the new alliance would not be created until 2009. The new alliance will mean the Conservatives will withdraw from the European People's Party, the main centre-right group in the European Parliament.
President Klaus is in the process of meeting with the leaders of all five
parliamentary parties during the course of Thursday and Friday to try to
resolve the post-election stalemate. The president scheduled Thursday's
meetings with the leaders from the three smaller parties, the Greens,
Christian Democrats, and the Communists. It is the first time in the
history of an independent Czech Republic that a president has officially
met with the chairman of the Communist Party.
Since June's inconclusive general elections, which gave the right and left block 100 seats each in the lower house, the leaders of the two biggest parties - the centre right Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats - have been arguing over what kind of coalition government should be formed.
The leader of the Social Democrats Jiri Paroubek has refused to support a centre right coalition and earlier this week he gave a lukewarm response to an offer to join the three parties in a rainbow coalition. Mr. Paroubek said he preferred to discuss other alternatives such as a grand coalition or a minority Civic Democrat government with tacit support from the Social Democrats. Former Social Democratic prime minister Milos Zeman has also voiced support for the idea of a caretaker government. These scenarios are not preferred by Civic Democratic Party leader Mirek Topolanek, whose party won the elections but lacks a majority in parliament.
It is not clear whether the lower house will make another attempt to elect a new leadership on Friday. The Social Democrats have refused to put forward a candidate for the post of speaker and it seems there may not be anyone in the running.
The Skoda auto factory in Mlada Boleslav has reached a milestone with production hitting the ten million mark on Thursday. A silver Octavia Combi came off the production line to mark the anniversary, reached more than a 100 years after Skoda began making automobiles. The first Skoda car, a model Voiturette, came off the production line in 1905. Chairman of Skoda Auto, Detlef Wittig said that it took 86 years to produce the first five million cars, and only 15 years to produce another five million. According to the company's plan, Skoda hopes to manufacture another five million cars in the next ten years. Skoda Auto belongs to the Volkswagen Group and currently produces four models, mostly for sale on foreign markets.
Investigators of an organized crime unit in the west Bohemian city of Cheb have arrested three Czech men suspected of trying to sell a ten-month old baby girl on the black market. One of the suspects is the little girl's father. Police say that the baby girl was to be sold to the United Kingdom for about 100 000 Euro, or 2.8 million Czech crowns. Police searches of the suspects' homes uncovered evidence including a forged birth certificate. If found guilty, the suspects face up to eight years in prison. The western border region near Cheb has a history of problems with prostitution, including incidents of child prostitution.
President Vaclav Klaus has set the date for the upcoming Senate and regional elections, which will be held on October 20 - 21, 2006. Citizens will vote on 27 senatorial posts, a portion which equals one third of the upper house. Senators are voted in for a term of six years, and one-third of Senate seats come up for re-election every two years. The upper house has a total of 81 seats and holds the power to veto laws and return them to the lower house for further amendments. Civic Democratic Party candidates won the most support in the last Senate election, which took place in 2004. The senators elected in October 2006 will also take part in the next presidential vote, which will be in 2008.