Hundreds of angry miners took to the streets of Ostrava on Tuesday to protest against planned wage cuts and growing job insecurity in the region. After a year of negotiations employers and trade union representatives are nowhere near reaching a deal on the 2014 to 2018 collective agreement, and there is a growing fear of layoffs in a region that already has over 100,000 unemployed.
Czech trade unions want the next cabinet to abolish a number of reforms carried out by the previous centre-right administration of Petr Nečas, representatives of the country’s trade union umbrella organization said at a press briefing on Monday. Among the reforms they want abolished is the so-called second pillar of the pension system within which people can transfer part of their compulsory social contributions from the state pay-as-you-go system to private companies. The Social Democrats, who are slated to win the elections, have already said they are prepared to scrap the second pillar. The list of trade union demands also includes minimum wage growth, the construction of 50,000 flats and the introduction of social housing which the Czech Republic completely lacks.
The labour ministry has exhausted four-fifths of its budget for people or families in emergencies or crisis this year: 7.5 billion crowns in the first seven months – 1.7 billion more than the same period in 2012. More individuals and families have signed for social benefits or welfare, and unemployment did not improve, the Labour Office’s report notes. This year, more funds went to the unemployed and the handicapped.
In Business News this week: Czech public debt reaches new high; unemployment remains at 7.5 percent in August; Senate curbs subsidies for renewable energy sources; tighter rules are introduced for liquor retailers; prices of potatoes and dairy products jump; and record number of dollar millionaires recorded in Czech Republic.
Some 100,000 Czechs are threatened with homelessness, the Czech minister of labour and social affairs, František Koníček, told reporters on Tuesday. The current homeless population of 30,000 could rise dramatically, mainly in the most vulnerable groups such as young people leaving institutional care, handicapped people, single mothers and retired people, or those who lose their jobs shortly before retiring, Mr Koníček said. The minister also outlined a strategy to curb the rising numbers of homeless people: the state should provide social housing to those threatened with losing their homes; increase the scope of social services, and provide better health care to people living in the streets.
The average salary in the Czech Republic has increased by almost 300 crowns year-on-year in the second quarter to 24,953 crowns, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. The purchasing power of the Czech consumer has gotten worse, though, due to inflation. The real wages have actually gone down by 0.3 percent compared to last year. Additionally, two thirds of the population has lower than the average salary.
Czechs attach least value to jobs such as MP, cleaner, priest, secretary and journalist, suggests an annual survey conducted by the CVVM agency. By contrast, they have most respect for doctors, scientists, nurses, and university and elementary school teachers, the poll indicates. The survey asks respondents to rate 26 professions on a scale of one to 100 in terms of importance. MPs this year replaced cleaners in bottom spot.
One in three Czechs lie in their CV, but the majority of employers never bother to verify the information given, according to the outcome of a study conducted by Screening Solutions. The agency says that one in three Czechs stretch the truth in the amount of work experience they have and the responsibilities they shouldered in their previous positions. Some also lie about their education, providing their would-be-employer with a fake diploma. According to Screening Solutions 55 percent of Czech employers fail to verify the information given and if they make any attempt to get further details they rely on the references provided in the CV.
The Czech economy is slowly recovering from a long period of economic downturn but in some parts of the Czech Republic the recession is far from over. One of the worst hit areas is the north-eastern Ostrava region where more than 100,000 people are unemployed. Ostrava is now bracing for worse as some of the major employers such as coal mines and steel works are facing serious difficulties.
Trade unions have welcomed their leader Jaroslav Zavadil’s decision to run on the Social Democratic Party’s ticket in the upcoming general election. Zavadil resigned as trade union leader after accepting the Social Democrats offer for him to head the party’s Prague candidates’ list. The umbrella trade union organization Zavadil headed says he will be better able to represent their interests in high politics. Mr. Zavadil has refused to speculate on his chances in the Czech capital, which is generally known to be right-oriented. He said he would focus his campaign on seniors, families with children and the socially weaker groups of the population.
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