Czech labour unions have postponed a nationwide transport strike against the government's fiscal reforms until Thursday, June 16. Originally the strike was to have taken place on Monday but the unions backed down following a decision by the Prague Municipal Court at the weekend. The court ruled that organisers had failed to give necessary advance warning of three working days and banned the strike as a result.
Railway union head Jaroslav Pejsa said on Czech Television on Sunday that the strike, now moved to Thursday, will last a full 24 hours. The nationwide protest action is expected to paralyse public transport in Prague and other major cities and towns. Blockades in key areas of major highways and routes are also expected. The police force is preparing to monitor developments on the day to try and keep situations from getting out of hand and to keep traffic moving.
In related news, union representatives have questioned the Prague Municipal Court’s ban as well as the court’s impartiality. According to the unions, the advance warning cited in its decision did not apply in this case, arguing the strike was “in the economic interest of all”. On Saturday, the unions were caught off guard by the court’s decision even as heads arrived for last-minute negotiations with the government. This prompted heated response by representatives who called the cabinet ‘cowardly’ and the court decision a mere ‘scrap of paper’. Despite postponing the strike, the unions say they will file a complaint with the International Labour Organisation, due to meet in Geneva.
Had the original strike gone ahead on Monday, the unions could have been held accountable for all damages and losses, which had been estimated to reach as high as 200 million crowns. On Saturday Prime Minister Petr Nečas warned the unions that if it did go ahead they would be held accountable for every crown.
A poll commissioned by public broadcaster Czech TV and conducted by the SC&C agency has suggested that three-fifths of Czechs support the planned public transport strike but by the same number disagree with blockades on major highways and roads. A quarter of those queried said they would actively take part if it were a general strike. The poll was conducted on June 10 and 11 relying on almost 700 respondents. Half of those asked said the government’s planned reforms, including changes to the health care and pension systems, were ‘unacceptable’, while a quarter disliked them but said they were necessary.
President Václav Klaus has rejected a call to apologise for injustices committed against ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia after World War II, saying that apologies were not the means of addressing differences over who bore responsibility for the war and related acts. On Saturday the chairman of the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft, Franz Pany, questioned why Prague had not made a similar gesture to that of Queen Elizabeth II on her recent visit to Ireland. The Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft represents ethnic Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia after World War II.
But Mr Klaus reacted by saying that some on the German side had rejected all apologies until now. He also said calling for an apology on the anniversary of the destruction of the village of Lidice by the Nazis 69 years ago was highly insensitive. On Saturday, some 3,000 people in the Czech Republic attended a memorial ceremony in Lidice, near Prague, where 69 years ago all male inhabitants aged 15 and higher were shot and all women and many children were sent to concentration camps. The destruction of the village was one of the most infamous acts of reprisal by the Nazis for the assassination of the acting Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich.
Two police officers, a passenger they were escorting to a sobering-up station and the driver of a second vehicle, were killed in the early hours of Sunday in a head-on collision. The accident took place at around 4 am near the South Bohemian town of Hluboká nad Vltavou. A spokeswoman said the officers were from a unit in Písek. The authorities were alerted to the accident by a driver who only narrowly avoided the crash. The cause of the accident has not been revealed and the driver of the second car, a red Opel which caught fire after the crash, has not been identified.
Some 25,000 people in attendance were able to see classic heavy metal band Iron Maiden on Saturday as they performed at a rock festival at Prague’s Výstaviště fair ground, just off of Stromovka Park. The band, led by singer Bruce Dickinson, featured songs off of their new album and also classics like The Number of the Beast. Other bands to perform on Saturday included Kreator and Korn.
Czech MotoGP rookie Karel Abraham finished seventh in the British Grand Prix, a day after posting his best-ever qualifying performance in his career. Despite getting off to a poor start, passed by five riders, the racer was able to come back, tying for his best finish earlier this year in Spain. Abraham, who races for Cardion AB Motoracing, is in tenth spot in the overall MotoGP standings.
Cloudy skies but some sunny periods are expected on Monday; daytime temperatures should reach highs of around 22 degrees Celsius.