The minimum wage in the Czech Republic rises on July 1st to 4,500 crowns, or just under 120 dollars per month, an increase of around 15 dollars. The Social Democrats announced after entering government in 1998 that they would increase the minimum wage in a bid to encourage the unemployed to seek work. Health insurance payments also increase as of July 1st.
Three of the countries largest breweries, Plzensky Prazdroj, Radegast and Velke Popovice, have announced a merger which will create the biggest brewery group in the Czech Republic. The new group - to be called Plzensky Prazdroj - will control 40 percent of the Czech beer market, producing the best-selling beers Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast and Velkopopovicky Kozel. The three breweries were bought last year by South African Breweries, the third biggest brewery group in the world. A report on Czech Television said that 10 percent of the workforce at the three breweries would lose their jobs.
The Minister of Agriculture, Jan Fencl, has said he will ask the government for seven billion crowns, or 185 million dollars, to be used as compensation for farmers whose crops failed in the recent drought. Millions of acres of crops were ruined over the last month as temperatures reached 38 degrees Celsius in places with no rain for weeks. The Agriculture Ministry had set aside only 200 million crowns to deal with the consequences of drought when the budget was drawn up last year.
The Czech Foreign Minister, Jan Kavan, has begun his first official visit to Ireland, meeting his Irish counterpart Brian Cowen and representatives of the Irish Parliament. The main points of discussion of his two-day visit are European enlargement and further economic co-operation between Ireland and the Czech Republic. Mr Kavan is also to meet the Irish President Mary McAleese.
Eight people have been injured in a train crash near the southern town of Jindrichuv Hradec. Initial reports speak of two local trains colliding head on shortly before one p.m. on Saturday. A helicopter ferried the injured to a local hospital. Details of their injuries have not been released.
A senior military prosecutor in Slovakia has charged 61-year-old Alojz Lorenc, the last commander of Communist Czechoslovakia's secret police, with abuse of public office. Mr Lorenc is accused of violating the human rights of over 100 people, including the current Czech President and former dissident Vaclav Havel, and faces a jail sentence of three to ten years. Lorenc had received a four-year prison sentence in May 1993, but after the break-up of Czechoslovakia that same year used his rights as a Slovak citizen to avoid serving the sentence, which had been handed down in a Czech court. His trial was then begun anew in the newly formed Slovak Republic.
And finally a quick look at Sunday's weather. A warm front will hit the Czech Republic tomorrow, bringing highs of 27 degrees during the day and night-time temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees. Skies will remain partly cloudy with some scattered showers and storms throughout the day.
I'm Rob Cameron and that's the end of the news.
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