Czech trades unions say they will take strike action if the government does not accept their proposals regarding changes to public sector pay. The head of the main unions umbrella body, Jaroslav Zavadil, told reporters the form of any such strike would be decided next week. The protest would probably last two hours or longer, the Czech News Agency reported. The workers’ leaders are opposed to wage cuts and a plan to broaden the use of pay scales by amending the Labour Code.
The Czech prime minister, Petr Nečas, says his government has no intention of backing down over its proposals regarding state sector pay. Mr Nečas said union representatives had rejected all compromise solutions put forward during meetings between the two sides. He said despite threats of a strike, his cabinet would stand by the planned changes. The right-of-centre Czech coalition says next year it will reduce by 10 percent the amount spent on the salaries of public sector employees, as part of a raft of cost-cutting measures.
Four bills aimed at significantly reducing state spending should be debated during a session of the lower house of the Czech Parliament that began on Tuesday afternoon. The legislation is intended to bring about: a reduction in support for building savings; tax changes, including a new flood reserve tax; measures reducing social benefits; and a decrease in state contributions to political parties. A final vote is expected to take place by the end of the week. The cabinet has pushed through what is known as a “state of legislative emergency” in order to speed up the approval process. However, the opposition says the government has no right to use that mechanism and that it will contest the move at the Constitutional Court.
The four bills are part of a government plan to balance the Czech Republic’s budget by 2016. It says it will launch reforms of the pension, health and taxation systems in 2012.
The Czech economy will expand more this year than previously expected, as household demand picks up while government spending cuts curb growth, the Finance Ministry said. The Ministry has revised its outlook for GDP growth in 2010 to 2.2 percent from 1.6 percent, according to quarterly updates of economic forecasts posted on its website. However, next year growth should reach 2.0 percent, less than the 2.3 percent originally predicted. The Czech economy is recovering from its deepest recession since the fall of communism at the end of the 1980s.
Leaders of the TOP 09 party in Prague have called on the leader of the Civic Democrats at national level, Prime Minister Petr Nečas, to become involved in talks on forming a coalition at the city’s Town Hall. TOP 09, whose candidate for mayor is former Czech National Bank governor Zdeněk Tůma, came first in local elections last month. The party would prefer to join forces with the Civic Democrats on Prague council, but there have been suggestions the latter could agree a pact with the Social Democrats. TOP 09 said on Tuesday they were afraid the Prague branch of the Civic Democrats wanted to maintain a “cartel” of power beneficial to business interests linked to their party and the Social Democrats.
Fire fighters have opened a national centre for co-ordinating humanitarian aid in Zbiroh, west Bohemia. The new facility, the biggest of its kind in the country, will serve as a base for co-ordinating aid to other countries and should lead to improved logistics in the case of natural disasters in the Czech Republic. The centre will also be used in projects involving co-operation with other European Union states, a spokesperson for the fire officers’ union told reporters.
A man who set a cellar where two homeless men were sleeping on fire in the Ostrava district of Poruba was sentenced to six years in jail by a court in the city on Tuesday. The prosecutor said Vladimír Krch, 46, had been attempting to get revenge on the men, who both suffered burns, for taking his spot. He rejected the accusation, saying he had only wanted to give his friends a fright and force them to leave.
The Czech Republic has been placed 23rd in an international table of internet quality and accessibility. It was ranked eighth best in Europe in terms of average data delivery speed in the Broadband Quality Study, which is carried out annually by the company Cisco. The internet is accessible to 55 percent of the Czech population. South Korea was found to be the best of the 72 states featured in the survey.
The Czech Social Security Administration has taken this year’s prize in a poll to choose the bureaucratic “absurdity of the year”, the deputy editor of the financial newspaper Hospodářské noviny announced on Tuesday. The agency came first in the survey for a regulation requiring entrepreneurs to produce statements from the business register when the same information is regularly updated and freely accessible on the internet. Last year the prize – which is meant to highlight pointless bureaucracy – went to a law requiring physiotherapists to have a fridge.
Forecasters say we can expect the present sunny spells to continue until the weekend, with temperatures reaching up to 17 degrees Celsius.