The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs is considering more regulation
of agency employment. It also wants the Labour Office to have more powers
to combat the exploitation of foreign workers, Minister Jana Maláčová
told the Czech News Agency on Friday. She said these measures were part of
a larger set that will be included in an employment bill due to be
published in the second quarter of this year.
The minister also reacted to an investigative article published by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle, which reported on miserable conditions for migrant workers employed at a Czech company owned by Agrofert, a conglomerate founded by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. Ms. Maláčová said the article could act as an incentive for an investigation by labour inspectors. Mr. Babiš has said the Deutsche Welle story was ‘made up’.
While January’s unemployment rates were still the lowest since 1997, the
Labour Office reports that the number of people without work has increased
to 3.3 percent.
Analysts expected this increase due to seasonal factors. However, the numbers are higher by one decimal point than their projections indicated.
Economists do not expect another major decrease in unemployment like that seen in 2018. Furthermore, the growth in vacancies is also projected to go down this year.
Despite increases in the past two months, unemployment levels in 2019 are expected to continue being very low and to fall below 3.0 percent with the onset of spring. This trend is also expected to put further pressure on employers to increase wages.
Junior coalition partners the Social Democrats have come out against a plan
by Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of ANO for the creation of a government
district in Prague’s Letňany district, Novinky.cz reported on Friday.
The idea would involve moving state officials out of city centre buildings.
The Social Democrats have joined opposition parties in opposing the plan,
with senior members saying it could threaten the historical locations
currently housing ministries and needed to be analysed in more depth.
The idea’s chances were recently boosted after a meeting between the prime minister and Prague Mayor Zdeňek Hřib, where the latter said he would be willing to give such a project the green light if the government paid for some crucial investments in the city’s infrastructure. While no agreement has yet been reached, Mr. Babiš has said that he wants to continue with the negotiations.
The Czech National Bank has lowered its surplus predictions for the public
finances in 2019 and 2020. In November officials said the surplus should
reach 1.3 percent this year. However, they have now revised that figure to
1.2 percent. Meanwhile, the central bank has reduced its surplus estimate
for next year by two percentage points.
Overall growth predictions for the Czech economy in 2019 have also been cut to 2.9 percent, four decimal points lower than the November forecast.
Government debt is still very low in the Czech Republic compared to among its Visegrad Four neighbours. In 2017 it stood at 34.6%, more than 15 percent lower than in Slovakia and nearly 40 percent behind that of Hungary.
Twenty-two-year-old Czech hopeful Markéta Davidová took the silver at the World Cup Biathlon event in Canmore, Canada on Friday. The gold went to Trill Eckhoff of Norway who crossed the line in 36:32.9 minutes, 9.8 seconds ahead of Davidová. Italy's Lisa Vittozzi took the bronze. Davidová is currently leading the overall World Cup ranking in the women's individual competition.
Three times Olympics winner Martina Sáblíková triumphed at the women's 3,000 meters race at the World Speed Skating Championship in Inzell, Germany. It is the fifth world title for Sáblíková in the 3,000 event. The 31-year-old Czech finished with a time of 3 minutes 58.91 seconds, coming ahead of Antoinette de Jong of the Netherlands and Russia’s Natalia Voronina.
The European Union and the United Kingdom must do their utmost to negotiate
an agreement on Brexit, Angela Merkel said during a meeting with prime
ministers of the Visegrad Four countries in Bratislava on Thursday. The
German Chancellor believes that both parties would benefit from an orderly
exit of the United Kingdom.
Angela Merkel and the leaders of the V4 countries, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and Poland, also discussed the EU budget for the period from 2021 to 2027 and the upcoming elections to the European Parliament.
Car-maker Škoda Auto has won a 780 million crown tender announced by the
Ministry of Finance to provide passenger cars to various state
institutions. The car manufacturer will provide over 1,370 vehicles to 10
ministries and subsidiary organisations. The Czech Republic’s prison
service has already received 30 Škoda Octavia models.
Škoda Auto had also won a 250 million tender to provide 4x4 drive passenger cars to the police, but the tender was cancelled by the country’s anti-monopoly office, which claimed its requirements unfairly favoured the Czech car-maker Auto against other bidders.
Czech Prime Minister Andre Babiš has slammed a report by Deutsche Welle,
which said foreign workers employed in a company linked to Mr Babiš work
in very poor conditions. The report, which was published on Tuesday, also
said the foreign workers arrived in the Czech Republic in terrible
circumstances. The ANO party leader said the article was fabricated and
full of lies.
The author of the report cited a Vietnamese, who used to work in the poultry factory Vodňanská drůbež in Mirovice, about 80 kilometres southwest of Prague, which belongs to the Agrofert Holding, founded by Andrej Babiš.
Mr Babiš turned Agrofert into trust funds in 2017 in order to comply with the conflict of interest law, but his critics say he is still in control since the trusts are managed by his family members and lawyers
A two-day conference on digitalization got underway on Thursday in the
Czernin Palace, the seat of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on
topics related to modern technologies and their impact on society and
Speaking at the opening of the conference, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said the Czech Republic must rise to the level of other EU countries in the areas of research, innovation and digital education. He also said the country must provide optimal conditions for researchers and scientists to prevent their outflow.
At the end of last year, his government adopted a program called Digital Czechia, promoting digitization of state administration.