More than half of all Czech primary and secondary schools held a one day strike on Monday in protest of low wages. Estimates show some 3,000 primary and secondary schools, and 460 nursery schools remained closed. In all some 72, 000 supported the strike. Meanwhile, Education Minister Petra Buzkova visited one of three schools in the south Bohemian town of Ceske Budejovice not taking part. Mrs Buzkova has stressed she could make no more concessions for teachers, saying she had done her utmost within the government plan for proposed spending cuts. The Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka also confirmed that there could be no question of allotting extra finances for teachers' pay.
Meanwhile, the leaders of the governing coalition parties met with officials of the Bohemian and Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions on Monday to discuss their recommendations for changes in proposed public finance reforms. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla warned the trade unions outright not to expect any major concessions. Trade union representatives would like to see significant changes in the plan, including retaining employee sick-leave benefits for the first three days of illness. They would also like to see the retirement age in the Czech Republic to remain unchanged. Monday's meeting, which lasted several hours, saw no final decisions. Union representative Milan Stecha said that some compromises had been discussed, but agreed with the prime minister that no final consensus had been reached. At the very least any changes to the government's plan will have to be agreed upon by the coalition as a whole.
The former director of the Stirin conference centre Jiri Zoufal has been charged by police in connection with improper management of state property and state finances. Mr Zoufal was the centre's head from September 1999 to February 1st, 2001. Police have been investigating the case for more than two years, finding that Mr Zoufal allegedly signed contracts for the centre's reconstruction that were disadvantageous to the state. State representative Frantisek Krejci said that Mr Zoufal was suspected of having caused 1.8 million crowns in damages. According to Mr Krejci, the centre even paid for work that was never conducted. If found guilty of improper management Jiri Zoufal could spend from six months to five years in prison.
The Czech prime minister's nominee for justice minister, Karel Cermak, said in an interview for financial daily Hospodarske Noviny on Monday he favoured a faster registration process for new companies. Mr Cermak said he would support a proposal to establish a new government office to handle commercial business registrations, but stressed he opposed a plan to outsource the work to the private sector. The current registry system, operated by the judiciary, has been criticized in the past for processing company applications at a snail's pace due to alleged understaffing and corruption.
By contrast, when questioned about speeding up court proceedings to clear the nation's chronic backlog of cases, Mr Cermak said he did not agree with time restrictions being put on the court system. Mr Cermak said there could be no fixed time limits for court decisions since cases had to be handled individually. With many legal proceedings in the Czech Republic dragging on for more than five years, some officials have suggested setting mandatory time limits for certain types of cases.
A Czech tourist has died while travelling in the Kamchatka region in Russia, after suffering a heart attack. The tourist was taking part in a 14-member crew travelling down the Bystraya River. Rescue workers summoned to the scene were unable to intervene in time. The tourist becomes the second Czech in a month to die on the Kamchatka Peninsula: on August 4th alpine climber Milos Smilovsky was killed while descending a volcano in the area.
Tuesday is expected to be cloudy with a chance of showers. Daytime temperatures will hover at around 15 degrees Celsius.
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