The Czech cabinet announced a long-awaited decision on the future of mining limits in the Ústí region in North Bohemia on Monday, agreeing to do away with limits at the facility in Bílina to allow the extraction of an estimated 100 million tonnes of brown coal. The move comes despite warnings from doctors, scientists and others who have said the change could harm the environment and would negatively impact local communities. By contrast, the move was welcomed by hundreds of miners and other supporters who say it will improve local employment. Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek told the press that while restrictions would likely be lifted at Bílina, they would remain in place at another mine, ČSA. Restrictions on mining in the area have in place since 1991.
The Czech cabinet has approved a 3 percent pay rise for public sector workers starting from next month. Ministers voted on the salary increase on Monday morning as they were travelling on a train from Prague to the northern city of Ústí nad Labem, where they are holding a special session. Public sector unions had been pushing for a higher increase. Teachers are to get 3.3 percent more from November. Employees who come under the Civil Service Law are set to get another 2 percent rise from January.
Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has posted an open letter online reacting to recent criticism by the country’s ombudswoman, Anna Šabatová. Last week, Ms Šabatová described conditions at detention centres for migrants in the Czech Republic as “unacceptable” not least for families with children. In all, she outlined 14 points that an inspection of the facilities uncovered. On Monday, in a letter posted on the Interior Ministry website, Mr Chovanec responded by saying conditions at detention facilities for foreigners had “always been humane”; he argued that migrants detained had access to quality health care, to clothes, as well as to healthy meals. The ombudswoman reportedly is not planning to comment; she is due to meet face-to-face with the minister on Tuesday.
Fifty Czech police officers will travel to Hungary to protect the border of the Schengen zone in connection with the ongoing migrant crisis in the European Union, the Czech government decided. Specifically, they will help secure the border with Serbia. The personnel are due to depart at the end of October and will serve abroad until mid-December. Twenty Czech soldiers have been operating in the area since last week.
The Czech Army is looking to quickly purchase attack rifles, handguns as well as dozens of transport vehicles to add to existing stocks. The move was discussed by the government on Monday. The purchases are worth roughly 1.24 million crowns and the Defence Minister said it could be paid for from the annual defence budget. The army is looking to have the extra equipment ready for NATO rapid-response operations or for guarding the country’s border during the continuing migration crisis. The Defence Ministry reportedly wants to make use of an exception under existing legislation which would allow it to circumvent public tenders; the proposal represents 11 contracts, the Czech News Agency reported.
Munitions from the former site of Vrbětice near Zlín have been stocked in 13 of 20 available storage buildings in the Czech Army’s Květná depot. The site, which had been mothballed, was reopened following explosions at Vrbětice which killed two employees and compromised public safety for months. The latest items transported included artillery shells. Facilities in Vrbětice were rented to Imex, whose employees died in the explosion. A second major explosion later followed. The police are investigating both incidents.
A newly-released study by the Czech think-tank European Values suggests that among members of the European Parliament, Czech MEPS were the third-most active in the European Parliament from July 2014 until July of this year. Swedish members of Parliament ranked second and Croatians first. According to the study, Czech MEPs had 76 percent attendance compared to the 68 percent average; engagement in parliamentary committees was not as strong. The study also reportedly showed that attendance was lowest among Eurosceptic parties or far-right parties such Le Front National headed by Marine Le Pen.
Road works in the Moravian capital Brno are causing huge complications at a shopping centre in the city, with some motorists unable to leave it for up to five hours on busy afternoons, iDnes.cz reported. Locals have complained that they have been poorly informed about the situation at the Olympia mall, where two of three exits are closed. Staff have been giving trapped motorists free bottles of water and police have recommended that shoppers use public transport.
Czech forward Tomáš Plekanec has helped the Montreal Canadiens to get off to their best season start since 1977-78, scoring five goals in six games. On Saturday, the forward scored to make it 3:1 against the Detroit Red Wings with only 2:04 left in the third period. The Habs added an empty-net goal to clinch their sixth win in six games. Plekanec recently signed a new two-year extension on his contract with Montreal worth a reported 12 million dollars which will keep him with the Canadiens through 2017-18.
Czech goalkeeper Petr Čech clinched his sixth clean sheet since the start of the new season with Arsenal, helping his side to a 3:0 win over Watford at the weekend. By the player’s own count, he is two short of tying David James’ overall record of 169 in the Premier League. Reports in September had Čech breaking the record but the goalkeeper later clarified online that four games had been mistakenly added as he had not played the full 90 minutes of those matches. Arsenal are currently in second place in the Premier League standings.