The Czech government’s pilot bond issue is sold out weeks ahead of deadline; long-term unemployment rate drops in the second quarter of 2011; the budget deficit reaches almost 80 percent of 2011 projected figure; next year’s state budget draft proposes public service job cuts; dozens of solar power companies demand compensation from Czech government.
A booth on Prague’s Jungmann Square is making people stop and stare. Individuals walk inside, close the door and yell at the top of their lungs – to come out smiling moments later, as someone else takes their place. What you hear there is not a frustrated employee letting off steam after a bad day at work –it’s a voice raised in support of fair trade and making companies observe human rights and give people decent work conditions in countries where it is easy to abuse them. The Czech NGO Na Zemi has launched a campaign to raise awareness of how
The most powerful Czech trade union, KOVO, has lent its support to a public protest of government reforms. The metalworkers’ union, which brings together nearly 1000 business and 100,000 members, decided on Wednesday to join a Prague demonstration set for October 22 on Náměstí Republiky. Union chairman Josef Středula says their involvement will be active, rather than symbolic, and that transportation would be organised to being members to the capital from Northern Moravia. The unions are opposed to policy reforms involving pensions, taxes and social welfare that they believe punish dutiful citizens by making them pay more. The protest has also received the support of the main confederation of trade unions.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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