Ludmila Müllerová of the TOP 09 party will be named Czech minister of labour and social affairs on Friday, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told reporters on Tuesday. She will replace her party colleague Jaromír Drábek, who stepped down in September after his deputy minister, who was a close associate, was charged with corruption. Ms. Müllerová previously served as an advisor to Mr. Drábek. One issue facing the new minister will be how to proceed with a planned card system of receipt of social welfare payments, which has come in for much criticism.
The Czech Interior Ministry on Monday rejected a ruling by the Supreme Administrative Court which said that over several years, the police wrongly required employees to take unpaid overtime. Under Czech law, police officers, fire fighters, customs officers and members of the prison service can be asked to do up to 150 hours in unpaid service; however, the court ruled that overtime duty could not be planned long in advance, which was at least sometimes the case. Police trade unions said the verdict applied to members of the security forces, and could in effect costs the state budget up to two billion crowns. But police and ministry officials believe the verdict is related to one specific case in which overtime duty was poorly justified.
The rate of unemployment in the Czech Republic rose in October to 8.5%, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Thursday. There were approximately 3,500 more people without work than in the previous month, and the number of job vacancies decreased by two tenths of a percentage point. The ministry said that the unemployed made up 6.7% of the country’s population. The main problem, according to analysts, is the low job creation rate. The Ústí nad Labem region had the highest unemployment rate in October of 13.2%, while the lowest was, traditionally, in Prague, where unemployment rate has stagnated at 4.4% for the second month in a row.
The Education Ministry responded to the proposed budget for 2013 on
Monday saying that cuts being put forward within were “impossible” and
would have to impact teachers’ salaries. The ministry’s spokesman was
reacting to cuts affecting not only next year but 2014 and
2015, amounting to a total of more than five billion crowns, ČTK
reported. School unions and academics have already slammed the bill
any suggestion that salaries would be lowered. The school
unions’ leader František Dobšík called the bill “a provocation”,
stressing that the unions had expected policies of growth or stabilisation
- not uncertainty. The unions have made clear they intend to organise
The opposition is also criticising the draft budget for 2013: Social Democrat senator and education specialist Marcel Chládek expressed the view that a government making cuts in science and research, regional education and teachers’ pay deserved “no mercy”.
Doctors’ union representatives from the Czech Republic may join forces with their colleagues in neighboring countries – Slovakia, Poland and Hungary – to stage another set of protests, similar to last year’s ‘Thank you, we’re leaving’ campaign. Mlada fronta Dnes daily reported on Saturday that doctors want to protest against similar problems as last year, but in addition to persistently low salaries, they are also criticizing plans to further privatize, and the insurance companies’ unfair practices. The unions are planning to stage a warning to the government and the Health Ministry and have doctors stop working for a few minutes on November 20th. If their demands are not met after that, union representatives are threatening massive resignations from doctors around the country, but said that this will not happen until after Christmas, so as not to complicate matters for patients during the holiday season.
The Japanese company Panasonic announced on Wednesday it will close its plant in Žatec, in northern Bohemia, and lay off some 590 workers. The firm, which launched the production of LCD panels in the plant in 2007, quoted strategic considerations as the reason. The decision to close the plant in Žatec will reportedly not affect another Panasonic operation in Plzeň.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Jaromír Drábek, of the TOP 09 party, officially quit the government when President Klaus on Wednesday accepted his resignation. Mr Drábek announced his resignation earlier this month in the wake of scandal surrounding his deputy whom the police charged with corruption. The TOP 09 party has proposed former senator Ludmila Müllerová for the post of labour and social affairs minister, a choice yet to be confirmed by the prime minister.
Some 2,000 trade union members from a leading Czech mining company, Czech Coal, staged a protest outside the government building in Prague on Wednesday against a bill that will ban the expropriation of land for mining. The draft legislation has already been passed by Parliament and is to be signed into law by the president. The protesters said that the bill would lead to a decline in mining and to a loss of jobs, particularly in the depressed region of northern Bohemia. The environmental group Greenpeace however accused the protesters of promoting the interests of Czech Coal management as they did not react to massive layoffs by the firm in the past.
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