The cabinet is to meet on Wednesday to discuss growing racial tension in the north of the country, Romany ghettos and social exclusion. Ministers are expected to debate a comprehensive strategy aimed at fighting social exclusion of Romanies in the spheres of education, housing, employment, health care and security. According to available statistics there are some 400 Romany ghettoes around the country with an estimated 80.000 inhabitants. The vast majority of adults living in them are jobless. A rise in racially motivated crime in the north of the country in recent weeks has escalated tension between the majority population and the Romany minority with calls for their eviction.
Government representatives will be holding a special tripartite meeting with employers and union reps on Tuesday to discuss the state budget for next year. Labour Minister Jaromír Drábek announced the meeting on TV Prima on Sunday and said that comments on the budget would be discussed and considered so that the government can vote on it on Wednesday. The government has only two weeks left to submit a budget proposal to Parliament. Talks have thus far been marked by disputes between the government and the employers.
The Justice Ministry is requesting about 2.6 billion crowns for wage increases over the next three years. The gradual rises are intended for employees of courts and state prosecutors’ offices, who the ministry says receive considerably less than other state employees. The ministry’s report for last year shows that workers in the sector received around 19,500 crowns a month, or 4.500 less than average state employees, despite the fact that the positions in question often require special qualifications.
Flights to and from Italy have been disrupted by an 8-hour strike in the country. A spokeswoman for Prague’s international airport said three flights to Rome and Venice had been cancelled and there had been several delays. Passengers bound for Italy have been asked to contact information well in advance of scheduled flights. Train transport has also been affected with the Munich-to-Verona line going only as far as Innsbruck from where passengers are asked to use a replacement bus service. The strike was called by Italy’s largest trade union in protest against the government’s cost-cutting measures.
A drawn-out government crisis over the controversial head of human resources at the Czech Education Ministry has been resolved in a most surprising way. Ladislav Bátora, the figure at the centre of the dispute, who came under fire for his past links to the extreme Nationalist Party and for insulting the foreign minister online, has not been sacked but is to be relocated to the less visible but technically higher position of vice-chancellor to the education minister. TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg, who was insulted by the civil servant in question
Education Minister Josef Dobeš has confirmed that teacher salaries will not suffer in 2012, but will see a promised overall financial injection of four billion crowns. He made the statement after meeting with union officials on Friday, but did not say how much actual salaries would go up. The minister indicated that 700 million crowns could come from savings this year, if agreed by Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, and that further funds could be saved by curtailing further investment.
An agreement has been reached on providing information about the salaries of employees in the public sector. Following numerous requests from the media for institutions to make public the salaries and bonuses of high placed officials, representatives of the Office for the Protection of Private Data, the Interior Ministry and the Ombudsman’s Office on Tuesday agreed that in future the information should be made available unless there was a very good reason to deny it. The Interior Ministry has been commissioned to provide guidelines for various institutions.
Government ministers, trade unions leaders and employers have agreed on raising the minimum salary. After Tuesday’s meeting of what’s is known as tripartite, Social and Labour Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek said the minimum salary should increase to around 8,500 crowns, or just over 500 US dollars, by January next year. The tripartite also agreed on early retirement of people working in physically demanding professions; however, the meeting failed to produce an agreement on the planned tax reform which should, among other things, remove tax breaks on some employees’ benefits such as lunch vouchers.
The internet has revolutionized the way we work and for many people has made it possible to work from anywhere with an internet connection. But while working at home may sound like a dream to those who have to go to an office every day, many freelancers find their apartments a less than ideal environment to really get their job done. Thanks to this, co-working centers, which provide a shared working environment to their members, have mushroomed in urban areas around the world. Currently, Prague has four such centers. For others, renting an office
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