The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions has called a one-day strike for December 8 against the government’s spending cuts, union leaders told reporters on Monday. The confederation’s head, Jaroslav Zavadil, said employees in the public sector together with other trade unions would take part. The Czech government is planning to introduce a 10-percent pay cut to salaries of public employees. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Monday the government was ready for negotiations; however, it would not back off its plans to cut spending. If the planned strike does take place, it will be one of the biggest protests since the fall of communism.
Czech Interior Minister Radek John has criticized the European Commission and several EU countries for their stance on the visa dispute between the Czech Republic and Canada. At a meeting of EU interior ministers in Brussels on Monday, Mr John said the lack of solidarity on the part of the EU was “scandalous”. Canada reintroduced visas for Czech citizens in July 2009 over increasing numbers of asylum seekers from the Czech Republic. The European Commission has repeatedly voiced support for Prague and even considered imposing visas on Canadian diplomats; on Friday, however, a report by the commission said progress on the issue had been made and no special measures were necessary.
The Czech Republic’s industrial output rose in September by 12.2 percent year-on-year, according to official data released on Monday. Compared to the previous month, industrial production rose by 1.1 percent after stripping out seasonal effects. In the third quarter of this year, the country’s industrial output rose by 10.2 percent. The main factors behind the increase were production of machinery and equipment, cars and metalworking. The value of new orders rose by 14.6 percent year-on-year.
In related news, October’s unemployment rate in the Czech Republic remained at 8.5 percent, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Monday. Labour offices registered more than 495,000 job seekers last month, some 5,300 less than in the previous month. Analysts generally expected a slight decrease of the unemployment rate; they predict that the situation is not likely to improve much in the coming months, as the economy’s recovery is not as strong as expected.
A court in Ústí nad Labem, northern Bohemia, cancelled on Monday the results of local elections in three districts in the town of Krupka due to fraud. Several hundred people were paid to vote for a particular candidate; they were also taken to the polling stations in minivans paid for by the candidate. The court said this constituted illegal campaigning, and ordered new elections be held in the three districts in question. The Interior Ministry now has 30 days to announce the date for a new round of voting.
The Social Democrat Prague election leader, Jiří Dienstbier Jr., quit on Monday his party’s negotiating team. Mr Dienstbier said he did not agree with talks on forming a coalition with the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, a direction many in the party want to pursue.
Three weeks after local elections, talks are still underway on a new government in the capital. Although the conservative TOP 09 party won at the ballots, the most likely outcome is a coalition of the Civic and Social Democrats, which came in second and third, respectively.
The Association of Czech and Moravian Hospitals approached on Monday Prime Minister Petr Nečas over funding cuts in 2011. Next year, hospitals in the Czech Republic are set to get 5 percent less funds for emergency care from health insurance companies. This, together with a possible mass exodus of Czech doctors, might put patients’ health and lives at risk, the association said. Representatives of the association are to meet with other Czech health care providers on Tuesday to coordinate further steps.
Over 1,100 Czech Catholics left on a pilgrimage to the Vatican on Monday to express their gratitude for Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the Czech Republic last year. The event’s coordinator said the pilgrims also wanted to show the Pope that Czechs were not a nation of atheists. During his recent visit to Spain, the head of the Roman Catholic Church mentioned the Czech Republic as one of the European countries where faith was threatened by secularity. The focal point of the visit will be a general audience with the Pope that is scheduled for Wednesday.
A man who attacked his neighbour’s goat in the Beskydy Mountains in northern Moravia faces charges of maltreatment of animals and assault, the police said on Monday. The man was objecting to his neighbour’s putting a herd of sheep and goats to pasture; the incident occurred when he approached the 64-year-old shepherd and threatened him with a knife. An impeding attack was prevented by a goat that stepped in between the two men; however, the aggressor attacked the goat instead, kicking him and stabbing him in the neck. The four-year-old breeding goat had to be attended to by a vet and has reportedly recovered. The attacker faces two years in jail.
The Czech national hockey team meets in Prague on Monday ahead of the season’s first Euro Hockey Tour event in Finland. Manager Alois Hadamczik nominated 14 players who appeared on the team that won April’s World Championships in Germany; star forward Jaromír Jágr, who injured his clavicle, will be replaced by first-time nominee, centre-forward Kamil Kreps of Finland’s Kärpät Oulu. At the Karjala Cup, the Czech team will first play Sweden in the Czech Republic on Thursday, before moving to Finland to face the hosts and Russia over the weekend.
The start of the week will be overcast with occasional rain and snow in higher places. Daytime highs should not exceed 14 degrees Celsius.