Czech labour unions on Wednesday threatened to undertake further protest actions against the government’s reform plans. Union leaders said a new round of protests would be more radical than that staged in Prague last Saturday when around 100,000 people marched through the capital demanding the centre-right government to step down. The head of the unions’ association, Jaroslav Zavadil said the protests would “hurt”, adding that union leaders would no longer attend meetings with the government.
Czech trade unions have decided that their show of force in mass demonstrations needs muscle. The Czech-Moravian Confederation of Trade Unions says that tripartite negotiations with the government are over and it’s time for a new protest which, as their chairman Jaroslav Zavadil said, is going to hurt.
This weekend saw thousands join an anti-government protest in Prague calling for an end to the current government and its reform policies, which critics call unnecessarily strict. The trade union-led demonstration saw as many as 100,000 people come out - with the promise that unless the government paves the way for early elections, protests will only be more intense.
Trade union leaders are to meet on Wednesday to discuss further action against the government should it survive in office. On Saturday a trade union protest march against the government and its reforms attracted around 100,000 people –the biggest anti-government demonstration since the fall of communism in 1989. Bohumir Dufek, chairman of the Czech Association of Independent Trade is pushing for a general strike should the government manage to muster enough support from independent deputies to continue in office.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he fully respected people’s right to voice their opinion but objected to the fact that the opposition parties had hijacked the protest to suit their own political interests. The prime minister said that in the country’s best interest the government would continue to follow a policy of fiscal responsibility. He said that what the opposition parties and trade unions had demonstrated on Saturday was sheer populism and said they had no viable alternative to offer to the government proposed reforms.
An estimated 100,000 people joined an anti-government protest march though the centre of Prague on Saturday. The massive show of discontent with the government’s reforms was organized by the country’s umbrella trade union organization which is demanding the resignation of the centre-right cabinet of Prime Minister Petr Nečas. Trade unions have accused the government of impoverishing the weakest groups of the population with what they call unnecessarily harsh austerity measures, particularly seniors, handicapped and chronically ill people and families with children. Representatives from the opposition Social Democrats and Communist Party joined the march in a show of solidarity.
Trade Union leader Miroslav Zavadil said he was surprised and pleased by the strength of public support for the anti-government demonstration. He put the number of protesters at 120,000 saying it was the biggest anti-government protest since the fall of communism in 1989. Trade unions are considering further action if the government does not fall next week due to having lost its majority in the lower house. Bohumir Dufek, chairman of the Czech Association of Independent Trade said that if the government managed to muster enough support from independent deputies he would try to rally support for a general strike.
The fate of the centre-right Czech government hangs in the balance after the junior coalition party Public Affairs split up, robbing the government of its comfortable majority in the lower house. The newly emerging pro-government faction around defector Karolína Peake is now trying to rally enough deputies to secure a viable majority in the lower house, but the key players on the Czech political scene are already preparing for early elections.
The number of self-employment licences reached nearly two million by the end of March, up by over 40,000 compared to the same month last year, the news website tyden.cz reported quoting data from the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry. In 2012, some 11,500 new licences were issued by the authorities. Analyst stay the steady rise in the number of the self-employed is caused by lower tax rates compared to those of employees; also, many Czechs take out self-employment licences as a security provision in case they their jobs but are unlikely to actually start a business.
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