Czech trade unions will halt railway services and block roads after June 10th unless the centre-right cabinet softens its health and pension reforms, the second-biggest union group said on Monday. The Association of Independent Unions said it was willing to negotiate until June 10 but made it clear that unless a compromise agreement was reached by that date it would launch a strike and transport blockade without further delay. The government, although weakened by infighting, has so far refused to budge and has stuck to its plan to cut the country’s budget deficit below 3 percent of GDP in 2013.
The Czech Food Inspection authority has ordered intensified random checks on all market vegetables in connection with the Spanish cucumber scare. It emerged on Sunday that over 200 potentially infected Spanish cucumbers were imported to the Czech Republic, of which 120 were sold on the market. The vegetables came from Germany on Tuesday and were distributed to over a dozen retailers in different parts of the country; the same German dealer also supplied cucumbers to Austria, Luxembourg and Hungary.
Potentially infected Spanish cucumbers are believed to be behind an outbreak of E.coli bacterial infections in Germany, the UK, Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands. At least ten people have died of the infection in Germany, another 30 are in reported to be in serious condition.
The country’s chief hygiene officer Michal Vit has told Czechs there is no reason for concern if they observe standard precautions when preparing food. He stressed that all fruits and vegetables should be properly washed and where possible peeled in order to prevent bacterial infection. Slicing boards and knives should also be properly washed before coming into contact with other food. Mr. Vit asked people to check out the list of stores which had the potentially infected cucumbers on sale and dispose of any suspect produce they may still have.
British police on Friday detained a 37-year-old Czech pedophile who is wanted by the Czech authorities on suspicion of child abuse, the Czech police presidium reported on Monday. The man who has a record of child abuse was reportedly spending time abroad in order to avoid outpatient medical treatment which the court ordered him to undergo. The suspect is believed to have abused a five year old girl in southern Moravia last year. If found guilty he could face up to ten years in prison. The man was arrested on an Interpol warrant and is expected to be extradited to the Czech Republic shortly.
Kristalina Georgieva, EU commissioner for international cooperation, humanitarian aid and crisis response told the CTK news agency on Monday that the Czech Republic is one of the EU’s best providers of humanitarian and development help. On a working visit to the Czech Republic, the EU commissioner said this was largely due to good organization and people’s willingness to provide aid to areas afflicted by natural or humanitarian disasters. Ms. Georgieva said the Czech Republic’s participation in humanitarian actions is by far the biggest of the 12 EU “newcomer” states.
The lottery company Sazka is in bankruptcy as of May 30 and its board of directors has lost the right to handle the company's assets which will now be administered by an insolvency administrator. The decision was reached at a meeting of the company’s creditors on Friday. Sazka´s management wants to turn to court to defend itself against the decision on bankruptcy. The company was declared insolvent at the end of March.
The police say it was not in their power to stop a 33-year-old driver from speeding down a Czech motorway in the opposite lane. The man, a foreign national who was later found to be on drugs, caused ten lighter accidents as he sped down the R1 motorway from eastern Bohemia to Prague for a stretch of over 70 kilometers. The police said on Monday it was not in their power to close down the motorway within so short a time and radical action would have put other unsuspecting drivers at risk. The man was going in the opposite direction at a speed of 180 kilometers per hour, dodging cars and forcing them to the side of the road. The police only arrested him after he had left the motorway on the suburbs of Prague. He has been charged with endangering public safety for which he could get up to eight years in jail.
Academicians and NGOs who were to assist the Education Ministry with the task of integrating Romany school children in the education process have abandoned the endeavor and are refusing to cooperate with the ministry further saying it has no intention of making any real progress on the issue. Tomas Habart from the NGO People in Need said the Education Minister Josef Dobes was not serious about tackling the problem and the group set up to deal with it was practically paralyzed as a result of personnel changes made by him. Amnesty International has issued a similar statement saying the Czech Republic is likely to be hit by sanctions for failing to take any action against discrimination of Romany children in the education system.
Written exams as part of state school-leaving exams began on Monday at hundreds of secondary schools across the Czech Republic. This year, students are for the first time taking a unified state school-leaving exam valid for all secondary schools in the country. The tests had been distributed under tight security measures to prevent leaks, Education Minister Josef Dobeš said. The first written exam is in the Czech language, followed by tests in math and a foreign language. The written part of the state school leaving exams will conclude on June 7.
President Vaclav Klaus and the first lady Livia Klaus are to reopen the newly reconstructed Golden Lane below Prague Castle on Wednesday. The lane with its charming row of Mannerist-style houses dating back to the late 15th century has just undergone the most extensive reconstruction in its history. Prague Castle administration which paid 34 million crowns for the reconstruction of one of the most visited sites of the Prague Castle compound has made sure that its historic value is well preserved. After the street reopens some of the houses will serve as museum exhibits – their interiors reflecting their former use : a goldsmith’s workshop, an alchemists’ den or a fortune-tellers home.
The coming days are expected to be warm and sunny with rain predicted mid-week. Tuesday’s highs are expected to reach 28 degrees Celsius.