Czech trade unions want the next cabinet to abolish a number of reforms carried out by the previous centre-right administration of Petr Nečas, representatives of the country’s trade union umbrella organization said at a press briefing on Monday. Among the reforms they want abolished is the so-called second pillar of the pension system within which people can transfer part of their compulsory social contributions from the state pay-as-you-go system to private companies. The Social Democrats, who are slated to win the elections, have already said they are prepared to scrap the second pillar. The list of trade union demands also includes minimum wage growth, the construction of 50,000 flats and the introduction of social housing which the Czech Republic completely lacks.
Miners in Ostrava are gearing up for a demonstration in support of job security and better pay. Over a thousand miners are expected to attend the protest gathering which starts at 3pm on Friday on one of the city’s main squares. Due to growing economic problems employers have been laying off staff, cutting wages and even planning to sell or close down mines such as OKK Koksovny and Dolny Paskov.
Two former Scout leaders suspected of child abuse have gone before a regional court in Usti nad Labem. They have been charged with rape, sexual abuse and related crimes in the case of around 40 children. The violations took place for over five years before the authorities were alerted to their activities by a 13-year-old boy. If convicted they face up to 12 years in jail.
Police are investigating Sunday’s gas explosion in a residential building in Havířov, Moravia, as a case of criminal negligence. A police spokesperson said someone had tampered with the gas meter. What caused the blast is as yet unclear. The explosion tore a huge hole through the top floor of the building, which was fortunately empty at the time. Twenty seven people had to be evacuated.
Seven parties now stand to win seats in the lower house, according to a poll conducted by the STEM agency just six weeks ahead of the country’s general elections. The Social Democrats would come out top with 30 percent of the vote, followed by the Communist Party with 15 percent. The centre-right TOP 09 would get 12 percent of the vote, followed by the right wing Civic Democrats with 11 percent. The three potential newcomers are the Citizens’ Rights Party – Zemanites with 7.4 percent, the ANO 2011 party headed by business tycoon Andrej Babiš with 7.7 percent and the Christian Democrats with 5.5 percent of the vote.
The Czech Republic will be the top seeds when the draw for the 2014 Davis Cup is made this week, the International Tennis Federation said on Monday. Winners last year, the Czechs have again reached the final and will play Serbia in Belgrade next month. Serbia's run to the final earns them the second seeding, followed by Spain and Argentina. The draw takes place in London on Wednesday.
Former Czech president Václav Klaus has ruled out a candidacy to the European Parliament, telling Czech Radio's flagship Radiožurnál on Sunday that recent speculation in both the domestic and international media had been unfounded. The former head-of-state, a well-known euro skeptic, last week published a manifesto in which he charged that EU leaders were striving for a superstate that - in his view - would threaten histories of individual countries and as well as democracy. Mr Klaus recently came close to launching a political comeback on the Czech political scene but turned down the opportunity at the last minute on the grounds there wasn't enough time to build a new party ahead of early elections.
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, a personal friend of the late
Václav Havel, spoke in Prague on Saturday to an audience of several
hundred people, giving a lecture on the importance of compassion and
respect. His arrival was welcomed by a standing ovation and during his
speech he mentioned Mr Havel several times. The talk was punctuated with
laughter, to which the audience reacted with applause. Mid-way, time was
made for a question period for members of the audience. The Dalai Lama was
invited to Prague by organisers of the Forum 2000 conference, this year
focussing on societies in transition.
The 17th Forum 2000 officially opens on Sunday. More than 100 personalities from all over the world are expected to attend, including Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a Nobel Peace Prize holder, and former South African president Frederik de Klerk, also a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Next year's state budget deficit could reach 112 billion crowns outgoing Finance Minister Jan Fischer said Sunday on public broadcaster Czech TV. Originally, the interim government had counted on a deficit of two billion less. The finance minister stressed that essential for him was that the number did not exceed three percent of GDP. The government is still to debate the budget proposal; the tripartite, with union, government, and business representatives will also meet to discuss the budget on September 20.
Speaking on the same programme, the finance minister said that the Czech Republic faces 40 lawsuits from solar energy producers over changes in support passed by MPs in 2010. Modifications passed then included the introduction of a 26 percent tax over three years. Solar energy producers are seeking damages amounting to 3.3 billion crowns. The finance ministry has taken a tough stance towards the claims.